The Zonta Club of Hiidenvesi, Finland, launched a stronger campaign than ever in their small town of Vihti, raising awareness through multiple channels.
Upon entering the town, there is a Zonta says NO to Violence Against Women billboard by the access route. If you take a walk in the center, you cannot miss one of several window displays.
The club also organized an event with the theme “Hope, no violence.” The keynote speaker was an MP who told of her touching childhood experiences with the violent marriage of her parents.
Presenters from the local church and social services gave a good overview of what kind of help is available for those who have a violent relationship. The feelings of hope were further reinforced by the music of local artists.
Additionally, the club engaged 14 prominent supporters from their community—some with a strong local presence like the chief officer municipal manager or the vicar—and some who are nationally well-known. They all stepped up to support the campaign and gave the club permission to use their photo in its campaign communications. These photos have been used in window displays, the local newspaper and in big social media communities reaching approximately 50% of the population.
On 28 November, the Zonta Club of Cebu II, Philippines, held a seminar/workshop that focused on blaming the perpetrator of gender-based violence instead of the survivor, establishing a referral network, and collective efforts to stop the violence.
Female police officers assigned to the Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in different cities and municipalities of Region 7 participated in the workshop, titled “Strengthening PNP WCPU through Gender-Responsive Delivery of Service to VAWC Survivors.”
The workshop was conducted by attorney Myles Gonzales-Esquivel, executive director of Miriam College Child Rights Advocacy Center and legal consultant of Child Protection Unit-Philippine General Hospital. She is also a member of the Philippine Commission on Women.
The goal of the workshop was to equip service providers and front-line workers with techniques to provide gender-responsive delivery of services. Gender-responsive service providers practice continuum care, respect, informed consent, non-judgmental attitude and gender-fair language.
People should not engage in victim-blaming, a devaluing act that occurs when the victim or victims of a crime or an accident is held responsible, in whole or in part, for the crimes that have been committed against them, Gonzales-Esquivel emphasized.
“It is important to keep in mind that a person who has been affected by gender-based violence is never responsible for the perpetrator’s action. The responsibility and the accountability should be given to the perpetrator of violence and not to the victim-survivor,” she said.
Gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women and children (VAWC) persist because of inadequate economic resources, which creates patterns of violence and poverty among women and LGBT+ people. When unemployment and poverty affect men, this can also cause them to assert their masculinity through violence.
According to Gonzales-Esquivel, GBV is an issue involving patriarchy and relations of power and is based on a feeling of male superiority and dominance, with an intention to relegate the female to a subordinate role at home, at school and at work, in the community or in society as a whole.
During the workshop, participants were divided into groups to identify areas for improvement, and corresponding recommendations on how to ensure gender-responsive and socially-inclusive services to GBV and VAWC survivors. Since resources are limited, those who work with VAW survivors must set up a referral network involving other agencies for a more coordinated and cost-effective response to violence.
On 28 November, the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV, Bangladesh, hosted an interactive activity with underprivileged young girls and their mothers and the teachers of Jaago Foundation Banani School.
On 2 December, the club joined the other three Dhaka Zonta clubs for a rally, which included Z club students. Participants wore orange T-shirts in support of the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign.
On 3 December, the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV hosted a program with that touched on thought-provoking issues raised by the young, insightful guest speakers.
For the past several years, the Zonta Club of Birmingham has sponsored a billboard at the intersection of I-65N at Oxmoor Road in Homewood, Alabama, USA. The message aligns with Zonta International’s Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The billboard gives a prominent hotline number for domestic violence victims to call for help: 1-800-799-SAFE.
Slave Island, located within the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is one of the busiest commercial areas in the city, with a large number of households crammed in between commercial enterprises. The area comprises a unique multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community, who are hard workers and survivors in the big city.
The Zonta Club of Colombo III partnered with these unique ladies to create a wall mural depicting and relating to the uniqueness and resilience of the women in this special community and to inspire them to stand up to violence against women.
The Zonta club celebrated these ladies by making it a day of fun, learning and empowerment with events flowing into each other, a song and dance session, and a simultaneous workshop educating them on the rights of women in standing up to violence against women, conducted by eminent lawyers and police officers of the Women and Children’s Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police.
After the completion of the mural, all Zontians and the ladies of the community put their palm prints on the wall depicting themselves as part of the mural and as a sign of their contribution and commitment to stand up to violence against women.
The palm prints of the local ladies as part of the mural in the locality will continue to be a source of inspiration and a constant reminder of their collective effort to raise awareness within their community with their own participation.
On 25 November, the world turned orange during the global “Orange the world” initiative to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
In Bulgaria, Zonta clubs in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Burgas, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo and Ruse actively participated in various initiatives and all united around the same initiative under the title “In the rhythm of dance and holding hands – ZONTA says NO to violence against women and girls.”
Various dance ensembles and citizens took part in the flash mob to express their protest through the power of Bulgarian folk dance and to declare their categorical “NO to violence against women and girls.”
The clubs called on the attendees of the flash mob and all people in the country of Bulgaria to be active, uncompromising defenders of the right of every woman to live in a better world—a world without violence. Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, the participants showed their commitment to the cause through their talent.
All clubs in District 30 Area 5 will say “NO to violence” through different activities planned within the16 days of the campaign.
The campaign received great media and press coverage within the country.
Since 1982, the national organization GAMS (Groupement pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles or Group Working to End Female Genital Mutilations) has worked to end female genital mutilation (FGM). The Zonta Club of Le Havre, France, has been a partner of GAMS Normandie for several years.
In connection with the GAMS’ 40 years of actions to end sexual violence against women and the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, members of GAMS and the Zonta club held a screening of the film In Search: A Journey to Womanhood followed by a debate on 25 November.
The film features Beryl, who was born in a rural village in Kenya, and thought that all women in the world had to be mutilated/cut. Consequently, she had to suffer these initiative rites. She did not imagine all the consequences of such an act. Many years later, she heard about a new kind of surgery, which was able to repair what was removed.
Through this autobiographic film, Beryl explores the emotional dilemma sparked by this possible surgery. She met and asked women who had to live the same experiences.
The movie screening was followed by a debate surrounding the surgical reconstruction and led by, among others, Dr. Fabienne Trocque, gynecologist, and Me Pascale Poulain, sex therapist—both of them Zontians and past presidents.