Among the many problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase in intimate partner violence and abuse. Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. New estimates from the United Nations Population Fund suggests that the first three months of the 2020 quarantine resulted in a 20 percent rise in gender-based violence around the world with Coos County being no exception. Contact with the SAFE Project, our local domestic violence program, indicates their shelter is consistently full with increased call numbers to their hot line. The SAFE Project has adopted the slogan “Not everyone is safe at home.”

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day. It was initiated in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, held by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University.

Since 1991, more than 6,000 organizations from approximately 187 countries have participated in the campaign. The theme for 2020 is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” The Zonta International believes violence against women is not inevitable; it is preventable. To end violence against women, attitudes that perpetuate, rationalize, and normalize that violence, need to be challenged and changed. Shifting these behaviors is hard and slow, but gender equality means all of us, men and women working together to make true change.

The Zonta Club of the Coos Bay Area invites you to visit our Facebook page during the 16 Days to view photos of local men and women standing up against gender violence. Photos will change each day. We thank the many local businesses and agencies who have taken a stand with Zonta to say NO to gender violence.  Ali Mageehon, Advocacy Chair, says “Zontians will not back down from our message that ending gender-based violence is critical, and even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic making it challenging for women to get to safety.”

Zonta is an international service organization of women and men working together to advance the status of women at the global and local level through service and advocacy. Currently the Zonta Club of the Coos Bay Area meets via Zoom at noon on the first and third Friday of the month.