Zonta Club of Dhaka IV shares with community how its sewing program saved girl from early marriage

On 10 December, the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV, Bangladesh, arranged an advocacy program with students, teachers, club members, lawyers and other community leaders at Ajompur Government Primary School, Uttara, to share innovative ideas to fight against gender-based violence in this pandemic.

During the program Antara, an underprivileged girl from the project, shared her success story of how she gained knowledge and raised her voice against any kind of women violence through the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV’s sewing training program. In 2018, when Antara was in her primary education at Azompur Government Primary School, she learned about the Zonta club’s sewing training program. Her family was in distress since her father was paralyzed and her mother was a nurse in Bangladesh Medical. As the eldest daughter of the family, she wanted to learn how to work and gain skills to earn for the family. That same year, she joined the club’s sewing training to gain expertise in sewing so she could start earning for her family.

During her training, Antara’s family wanted her to get married when she was 14 years old. However, she wanted to learn and continue her education. She shared this with the training’s sewing instructor, who then told her family about the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV’s program, convincing them that if she continues the training, she would get a certificate and a sewing machine, which she could use to earn a living.

This stopped the early marriage of the girl and, through the training program from the Zonta Club of Dhaka IV, she became confident and had eventually found a way to earn with the help of her new skill. Now, she is an example for girls around her to continue education and learn to work and not get married at an early age. Furthermore, she got a certificate of course completion and a sewing machine, which she uses to make orders.

Zonta clubs of Bombay I and Bombay III host multiple activities throughout 16 Days of Activism

The Zonta clubs of Bombay I and Bombay III were active in advocating to end violence against women and girls during the 16 Days of Activism.

On 26 November, the clubs held a virtual activism session with Save the Children India (STCI). The resource personnel and three alumni shared their stories of losing their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic and then joining the formal sector after training from STCI. Zontians at these sessions had interactive discussions with these girls. The girls were congratulated that in spite of facing challenges, they did not give up but got trained and were now doing jobs in the formal sector.

On 30 November, members from the clubs attended another virtual session by STCI about domestic violence. Survivors were shown how to stand on their own feet and  gain respect and status in society. Counseling and legal terms (civil laws) were also explained. Various ideas and solutions were shared like ringing the doorbell. District 25 Governor Errick Elavia and the participating Zontians also shared their views on the same.

On 2 December, the clubs hosted a webinar, “Say NO to Violence – focus on Prevention of Child Marriage” for eighth- and ninth-grade students of Lady Engineer High School. The guest speaker for the webinar was Kamal Damania, chief operating officer of the Light of Life Trust (LoLT), founded by Ms. Willy Doctor, with a vision to develop rural communities through education, empowerment and employability.

Kamal shared a presentation about their projects, Anondo and Jagruti, describing that the basic issue in rural India is that the girls drop out from school, the moment they reach puberty or due to early marriage. So they are unable to complete their school education. Also, the highest percentage of out-of-school children are mainly girls in the ages of 11-16. LoLT comes to their aid by preventing drop-outs, counseling them, guiding them to choose appropriate careers, giving them livelihood training programs, an environment conservation program and assisting their all-round development.

The webinar ended with the children and Zontians taking a pledge, “Say NO to all types of gender violence, speak up against any violence be it at home, at school or in your neighborhood.’

On 4 December, the Zonta Club of Bombay I organized a virtual self-defense demonstration for female students of Lady Engineer High School. The workshop was conducted by Sensei Hoshang Batliwala, an eight degree Black Belt (Kyoshi), who is the chief instructor and technical director of Okinawan Goji-ryu karate. He was assisted by Shandai Percy Shroff, a third degree Black Belt.

The students were introduced to unarmed martial arts discipline, employing kicking and defensive blocking with arms and legs. Various ‘Kata’ or forms of basic martial art moves and postures were demonstrated, including punches kicks and blocks aimed to help keep  themselves safe from difficult situations. Overall, it was an informative and helpful workshop for students.

On 8 December, members of the clubs attended another session conducted by STCI. Reshma Naykodi, manager of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives, oriented the participants about the formal sector and explained in details about sexual harassment at workplace and the measures for its prevention. She stressed that every victim has a right to complain and getting a satisfactory result/solution was her right.

Zonta Club of Bangkok I partners with ASA Wittaya Z Club for ‘STOP Cyberbullying’ event

The Zonta Club of Bangkok I, and ASA Wittaya Z Club, Thailand, arranged a lecture titled “STOP Cyberbullying” at ASA Wittaya School 7 December 7 as an advocacy activity during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. There were 120 secondary school students who attended the session.

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means. It has become an increasingly common and serious issue in recent years—largely due to the easy access to, and in some cases the anonymity of, digital devices. As children and teens spend more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic to complete virtual schoolwork and keep in touch with friends, cyberbullying may increase.

One of the best ways to protect the child from bullying is to talk openly about it. The club also gave funds to the school and appointed two Z club students as the school’s stop violence ambassadors to promote the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign in the school and community.

Zonta Club of Kathmandu focuses on ending violence against women in the world of work during 16 Days of Activism

The campaign was organized with the objectives:

The Zonta Club of Kathmandu, Nepal, commemorated the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence around the United Nations’ global theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” with focus on “Ending Violence against Women in the World of Work for Women Working in the Both Formal and Informal Sector.”

  • To support the Government to implement The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Prevention Act, 2015.
  • To help organizations create a safe and harmonious work environment for women workers.
  • To raise awareness on among women working in the informal sector about their rights and provisions.
  • To raise awareness on violence against women and vulnerabilities faced by migrant women, including on available support mechanisms.

The program was inaugurated by the Minister of Women, Child and Senior Citizens, Julie Kumari Mahato. I

The Zonta Club of Kathmandu partnered with the Federation of Nepali Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) and Paurakhi, a local non-governmental organization working for women migrant workers.

District 31 advocates to end violence against women during the 16 Days of Activism

During the 16 days of Activism, District 31 held two activities to echo the campaign and advocate for the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign.

On 25 November, Orange Day, Governor Vivienne Shen gathered members of Zonta clubs from the northern part of Taiwan at New Taipei City Hall. Almost 50 members in orange T- shirts marched toward a corridor decorated with orange flowers and lights nearby, waving banners and chanting “Zonta says no to violence against women.”

Many pedestrians and tourists stopped and watched the procession. After reaching the corridor, a group photo was taken at the entrance, which was lined with advocacy banners. Zontians then dispersed to find positions inside the corridor to continue advocacy. A joyful dinner party ended the event.

On 9 December, the eve of the conclusion of the 16 Days of Activism, another activity was specially organized for the members of the diplomatic corps, including Dean Jasmine Huggins, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to Taiwan, who admires Zonta’s mission and vision and asked to join in theiradvocacy.

Participants visited the Protection and Prevention Center of New Taipei City for victims of the domestic violence and listened to touching presentations by staff there. On behalf of the group, Ambassador Huggins expressed appreciation for the Center’s work and presented a donation to the victims. The participants then joined New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-Yi at the orange corridor. Mayor Hou led the group in chanting ” No violence to women” behind a “Zonta Says NO” banner. The event was covered by local news media and broadcast by television news networks.

Zonta Club of Hsin Chu hosts volunteer clinic for international immigrants during 16 Days of Activism

As part of its Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign, the Zonta Club of Hsin Chu, Taiwain, hosted a volunteer clinic in the 2020 International Carnival for Immigrants in Hsinchu on 6 December.

Ten doctors provided onsite medical services to immigrant families, and more than 200 people received the medical gift.

To support Orange the World, the United Nations campaign for eliminating gender violence, and the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign, all Zontians wore orange masks and T shirts with “ Zonta Says NO to Violence against Women” to advocate relevant ideas.

In addition, orange balloons and a banner printed with the Zonta logo and “Zonta Says No” attracted wide attention. Everyone who participated in the clinical service was presented with an orange Zonta face mask and invited to take photos with campaign banners to show their supports.

Magistrate of Hsinchu County, Mr. Wen-ke Yang, and several county councilors also participated in the activity and expressed their support of the campaigns.

Zonta Club of Lahti illuminates Sibelius Hall in orange during 16 Days of Activism

The Zonta Club of Lahti, Finland, was successfully visible during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Sibelius Hall, a concert hall, was illuminated in orange to advocate for ending gender-based violence. The work of Zonta International and the campaign gained enormous publicity on the Sibelius Hall website and in local newspapers.

The club also donated money to a local organization that helps children in difficult and insecure situations and prevents domestic violence.

Zonta Club of Sundsvall spreads gender-based violence awareness and raises money at local mall display

The Zonta Club of Sundsvall, Sweden, arranged an alternative Zonta Says NO to Violence campaign this year due to COVID-19.

The club had the opportunity to temporarily use a store in one of the city center malls, where a gender-based violence in close relationships exhibition was complied.

Among other things, club members painted 279 shoes orange, which symbolized the number of reported gender-based crimes in their small town in 2019. They also made a poster with the message, “Help Us Help” with a bank account number to support the action to stop gender-based violence in close relationships.

At the end of the exhibition, after 16 informative days, they reached a total amount of 10 000 SEK (US$1,000) for Zonta’s upcoming projects, without their physical presence at the mall.

In the news: Eleuthera painted orange by Zonta Says NO to Violence campaign

Zonta clubs in the Bahamas expanded their message this year during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Eleuthera was the first Family Island to take up the charge, with Eleuthera representative for Zonta Bahamas, Jewel Edwards, who partnered with multiple civic organizations across the island to bring awareness to the message of Saying NO to Violence Against Women.

Marisa Mason-Smith, National Advocacy Chairperson with Zonta Bahamas, commenting on the purpose of Zonta Bahamas and their ongoing work, shared that the group is an international one, made up of professional women, who seek to advocate for women and girls through various initiatives – with regard to education, legal, religious, general advancement issues and others.  “Zonta Club is in just about every country in the world, and in the Bahamas, we have had the club here for almost 45 years.  We are excited about the work that we continue to do. Zonta is the only non-government organization that has a seat at the United Nations, which gives us a right to vote on women-related issues.”

She continued, “Their are some intrinsic cultural norms that we have accepted for so long, and many have been taught that you ‘do not talk about what happens in this house’, so there has been a lot of shame associated with violence issues. The ’16 Days of Activism’ seeks to declare that we are not accepting gender-based violence in any of its forms.  Women’s rights are human rights, and we have seen violence being perpetrated across all strata of our society – from the rich to the poor.  We have seen an increase in domestic violence this past year – most recently a mother and her daughter were killed [in New Providence], and a young woman [Keva Cash of Lower Bogue] in Eleuthera was also murdered.  There are so many cases that have taken place, and it engenders the spirit that we need to do something! Specifically, about educating and advancing the status of women, and saying no to domestic and sexual violence, and that it will not be tolerated.”

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