Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence—an international campaign that aims to inspire action and end violence against women and girls around the world—the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley along with members of the local community, displayed the SCV Red Dress Project last Saturday, Oct. 16, during Child & Family Center’s Purple Palooza Walk. We have several dates this fall at Saugus Swap Meet and on Tuesday, Nov. 23rd at City Hall. Check our website for the full schedule. Please visit www.SCVZonta.org/advocacy.
At the local level, Zonta clubs across the world have organized activities and events as part of the 2021 Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign, which focuses on the service and advocacy actions of Zonta clubs and districts to prevent and end violence against women and girls in their local communities.
“As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, instances of gender-based violence are on the rise. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we work together to end violence against women and girls,” said Sharon Langenbeck, Zonta International president and a member of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley. “Through the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign, Zonta clubs around the world are uniting to raise their voices to bring awareness to this issue and advocate on behalf of gender-based violence survivors.”
Each year during the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which runs from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10,, Zonta International encourages its clubs to participate in advocacy efforts that focus on prevention, protection and prosecution.
The SCV Red Dress Project was inspired by the original REDress Project. The first year our club displayed the Red Dresses was in 2016. It was created to advocate and to share the awareness of domestic violence within our community.
The REDress Project was created by a Canadian artist, Jamie Black in 2010. She initiated this project in response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) epidemic in Canada and the United States.
At one of her art exhibits at a college in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she hung about 100 red dresses around the campus, both indoors and out, as part of The REDress Project. Black said the dresses are empty to represent death and absence. She chose the color red because it signifies many different things. It’s the color of love, and also spilled blood. It has meanings of both the positive and the negative aspects of being an aboriginal woman in Canada.
By her dedication to this project, the Red Dress Day was initiated and is commemorated on May 5th annually since 2017 in Montana. Then in 2021, it was instituted as a national holiday. Red Dress Day is one of many campaigns that have started to call attention to disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women.
Then in 2016, the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley decided that this should be the new project for our club. It became a joint effort with the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, and the city of Santa Clarita. The red dresses were displayed around the SCV for 2 weeks during the 16 days of activism. The club has decided to display them throughout the year, so the awareness of the project won’t be limited to the two weeks. Our community should be aware of the issues and the effects of domestic violence. Our club advocates to stop violence against women and girls. ZI has made gender-based violence an issue that we should focus on and to help eradicate here in our community and the world. No woman should live in fear of violence.
The red color of the dresses is meant to symbolize the intimacy and blood of domestic abuse. Our club started with six dresses to represent the lives lost between 2015-2016. Then a seventh life was lost was in 2017, so another dress was added. Plus, that year, a young man was the eighth life that was lost, so we added a red sweater in his honor. The seven dresses and the sweater are hung up in trees in various locations throughout the city, where they are exposed to the weather and animated in the wind to represent the lives lost. Future dates will be announced on our website.
Founded in 1974, Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley is a dynamic organization of professional women working together to advance the status of women and girls in the Santa Clarita Valley and around the world.
Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women began in November 2012. To learn more and join the campaign, please visit www.zontasaysno.com. Zonta International’s ongoing efforts to end violence against women and girls at the international level are carried out through the Zonta International Strategies to end Violence Against Women (ZISVAW) program and through Zonta’s partnerships with the United Nations and its agencies. Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than US$9.5 million has been provided to support projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls in 46 countries.
Zonta Internationalis a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. More than 28,000 members in 63 countries work together to make gender equality a worldwide reality for women and girls. Since 1923, Zonta International has pro-vided more than US$45.9 million to empower women and girls and expand their access to education, health care, economic opportunities and safe living conditions. For more information, visit www.zonta.org.