Hello to all District 1 Club Presidents and Club Advocacy Chairs/representatives:
CC. District 1 Governor and Board members.
We are pleased to send you this copy of the final District Advocacy Report for the 2014-2016 Biennium, as we said we would. The report was sent to the Zonta International Advocacy Committee on May 24, 2016 and it will shortly be posted on the District Advocacy Blog.
This will be our last report as we complete our term on June 1, 2016. As you will note in the report, much remarkable and very good work has been accomplished these past two years. We thank you for all that you are doing to forward the work and ideals of Zonta.
We wish you much success in the 2016-2018 biennium.
JoAnn Higgins (US) and Marie McCully Collier (Canada)
Co-Chairs, District 1 Advocacy Committee
Overall Work in the District
Jo Ann Higgins (USA) and Marie McCully Collier (Canada) have Co-Chaired the District 1 Advocacy Committee during the 2014-2016 Zonta International Biennium. This report (their last report for the biennium) summarizes advocacy activities by Area and Club over the past year – July 2015 to May 2016.
District 1 includes seventeen Clubs in four Areas. Fourteen Clubs are in the Eastern United States (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) and three are in Maritime Canada (Nova Scotia). Since 2013 the District has had an Advocacy Platform to guide District and Club activity. In 2014 a District Blog was developed to promote understanding and skill development regarding advocacy work for Zonta and to facilitate communication among District members and Clubs.
This past October 2015, at the District Fall Conference in Burlington, Vermont, a workshop on Advocacy was presented by Jo Ann Higgins and Marie McCully Collier. Important updates were provided and discussion was encouraged. Members were challenged to embrace advocacy and to make it a real activity in their Clubs; and encouraged to become familiar with the resources and reports of the District Clubs by visiting and posting descriptions of their advocacy work on the District Blog.
Much good advocacy work is being accomplished in District 1. Clubs and members are aware and understand the importance of seeking ways to influence local, state/provincial and national/federal laws, legislation and attitudes using approaches that support the ideals and objectives of Zonta. They are supporting Zonta International’s “Just Say No” to Violence Against Women campaign; working to increase the awareness of trafficking with the hope in decreasing it; supporting Z Clubs to create posters aimed at teens with the message that violence is not okay; showing the film “Girl Rising”; participating in International Women’s Week Activities; writing letters to their community leaders to influence political decisions, and much, much more.
But we are not sharing our successes and challenges with one another. We do not have a report that proudly shouts out – this is what we are doing! This is what we are learning about ways to do it better! This is the challenge we leave for the incoming 2016-2018 District, Governor, Co-Chairs of the District Advocacy Committee.
District Communication and Advocacy Challenges
It has been a major challenge to accomplish a communication plan that achieves good results.
One major example supports this conclusion. This report is not meeting the May 5th submission deadline set by Zonta International. Club, District and International emails and blog posts have not been effective. Fall Conference and Spring Workshop discussions failed to bring in the Club reports needed to compile a District Advocacy Report. Consider the following points:
- In January 2016, Club Advocacy Chairs/representatives were asked to post descriptions of their recent advocacy activities on the Blog. It was suggested that -- “Your report should include a description of any activities carried out for the “Zonta Says No – 16 Days of Activism” but is not limited to that topic. Please report on any other unique advocacy actions and results achieved or projects undertaken since July 1, 2015. Pictures are welcome. Tell us about your challenges and what you are learning as you work to advance your skills as advocates. What you share in your reports will help us all to learn from and support each other as we continue our work to expand our roles as advocates in our communities. Your reports will also help us prepare a Spring 2016 Report for the Zonta International Advocacy Committee.” Responses were disappointing - only one Club posted a report on the Blog.
- In February 2016 Jo Ann Higgins reported that she had written to all of the Senators for the United States that fall into District 1, asking their positions on the equal pay bill and ratifying CEDAW. She received only one reply, that coming from Maine Senator Angus King. He agreed it was time to address CEDAW again. District 1 (USA) members were encouraged to contact both Senators and Representatives regarding the New Steps and to send brief summaries of any responses received to the Advocacy blog. No posts were received on the Blog.
- In April 20, 2016, the Zonta International Advocacy Committee distributed a “North American Advocacy Questionnaire” to all Club presidents to facilitate the International Committee to put together a more comprehensive picture of Zonta Advocacy in North America. They asked that the questionnaire be returned by April 30. District Advocacy Chairs were not on the mailing list for this email. During March and April separate reminders were sent to the District Advocacy Co Chairs that a District Advocacy Report was due by May 5, 2016.
Indeed, during January to May, at least eight more emails and reminders were received from Zonta International Advocacy Committee and distributed to District Club Presidents and Advocacy Chairs by Jo Ann and Marie, via the Blog. No reports were received.
- District Spring workshops were also utilized to remind Clubs and members of the need to submit Club reports for the Blog to JoAnn and/or Marie so as to enable them to complete a District Report by or before May 5, 2016. No reports were received.
- Finally, on May 5, Jo Ann and Marie posted a request to all District Club Presidents and Advocacy Chairs/representatives to send a copy of their completed “North American Advocacy Questionnaire” as we knew that the first question would tell us about Club Advocacy activities, and we could use the information for a District Advocacy Report.
By May 14th only four Cubs had responded. Another reminder was sent out. By May 21, a total of 9 Clubs (53%) had responded - the final result.
What is the problem? What is the solution? The answers lie among us all. We are all busy. We have other lives and responsibilities to care for. Somehow, communications need to be heard and followed more effectively. Somehow, communications need to be timely, clear, and well understood. Somehow, communications need to be well and better coordinated with Zonta International. Duplication needs to be minimized. Everyone needs to feel they are “in the loop” and receiving critical information. Objectives and work plans need to be reasonable, achievable and rewarding.
Here are the Club reports, briefly summarized from the “North American Advocacy Questionnaire”:
AREA 1 -- Four of the four clubs in Area one reported.
Bangor – their main goal is to stop human trafficking in the greater Bangor area.
Burlington - participated in International Women’s Day in Burlington, Vermont
Concord – supported a Domestic Violence poster campaign to support the “Zonta Says No” initiative; supported Equal Pay advocacy through testifying at local legislature and letter writing; supported Voting for All education and advocacy; conducts Career Connect, a job readiness training focused on resume writing, interviewing skills and dressing for success, for high school female students in support of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
Southern Maine - made posters with emergency contact numbers for victims of domestic abuse to call for assistance both in the States of Maine and New Hampshire and distributed them around our communities; sent letters to the editor and legislators re Cities For CEDAW.
AREA 2 - Two of the five clubs in Area two reported.
Northampton Area – working, through public showings of films, to increase awareness of the effects of the media on the unhealthy image of girls by teen boys; working in conjunction with Tapestry Health, regarding women’s health issues; raising the awareness of domestic violence with Safe Passage by participating in their annual Walk and displaying Zonta Says No signs; following and supporting Pay Equity and Family Leave legislation led by Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and the Act to ensure compliance with the anti-shackling law for pregnant incarcerated women led by Prison Birth Project.
Quaboag Valley – their main goal was to increase awareness of global female issues in their community through social media.
AREA 3 - Two of the three clubs in Area three reported.
Truro – their main goal is to influence local, provincial and federal laws, legislation and attitudes using approaches that support the ideals and objectives of Zonta. They are watchful of positive and negative issues affecting their community, and seek out opportunities to work with other organizations having similar goals. They have had a letter published by the local press promoting Zonta Says No; written to their provincial government ,advocating improved approaches to care for persons with mental disabilities in institutions who have experienced police interventions and had a response from the premier of Nova Scotia; walked with other Truro groups and individuals in a “Take Back The Night Event” to promote safe and non-violent communities for women; participated with local groups to promote and celebrate International Women’s Day; volunteered time at a Homeless Shelter and a public event promoting “Women and Wellness”; and participated in a Round Table Discussion with local First Nations and key leaders (political and otherwise) regarding Aboriginal Women, Violence and Abuse;
Halifax – wrote to the CFL (Canadian Football League) commending them on their commitment to condemn violence against women; wrote to provincial government Minister Joanne Bernard and Minister Leo Glavine, imploring them to reinstate funds to Marguerite Centre (treating women with addictions), which had recently been cut, while similar centres for men had received additional funding; participated in the “Sixteen Days of Activism” - some members took part in the Sunday Street March, “Take Back the Night”, on December 6th, aimed at raising awareness of the dangers facing women in society, and standing up against them; made application and received approval to honour their club’s 65th anniversary by displaying the Zonta Logo in a Public Flower Bed in the Halifax Public Gardens which will raise awareness of Zonta in Halifax, and Zonta International, and should provide opportunities for Club members to celebrate and educate; on January 2016, their President spoke to Rotarians about Zonta International, and the Zonta Club of Halifax, driving education of their goals and initiatives; initiated a new scholarship/bursary through a partnership with Nova Scotia Community College to assist women in poverty to elevate themselves through education.
Notably, all three Nova Scotia Clubs, Truro, Halifax and Amherst, combined their efforts to support Federal legislation – Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (inflicting torture). The second reading of this Bill was presented to Parliament on April 21, 2016.The Bill passed this reading and goes on to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. (“Truro human rights advocates thrilled to see torture bill tabled in Ottawa”. The two activists in this News article were speakers at the Area Spring Workshop on April 16, 2016). The Advocacy Representatives of the three Clubs also met virtually on Skype to share experiences when possible.
AREA 4 - One of the five clubs in Area four reported.
Malden – launched, in 2014, an annual walk through the City, in partnership with the Malden Teen Enrichment Center and the YWCA to advocate for victims of domestic violence and to raise awareness and educate the community - local legislators and the Middlesex District Attorney have spoken at this event called STEPS walk -- Steps toward Empowering Personal Safety, and at the "step-off" ceremony, we present the Silent Witnesses.
Dear Advocacy Chairmen:
Please review your Advocacy projects and submit a Club report to post on this Advocacy Blog by or before the end of February 2016.
Your report should include a description of any activities carried out for the “Zonta Says No – 16 Days of Activism” but is not limited to that topic. Please report on any other unique advocacy actions and results achieved or projects undertaken since July 1, 2015. Pictures are welcome. Tell us about your challenges and what you are learning as you work to advance your skills as advocates. What you share in your reports will help us all to learn from and support each other as we continue our work to expand our roles as advocates in our communities.
Your reports will also help us prepare a Spring 2016 Report for the Zonta International Advocacy Committee. We would like to hear from every Club and look forward to your reports.
Marie McCully Collier and Jo Ann Higgins
Co-Chairs, District 1 Advocacy Committee
Advocacy Blog Report From: Joan Westoll, Advocacy Chair March 2016
Re: Report for the past 6 months for Zonta Club Truro and Area
With the encouragement of Marie McCully Collier, Truro, Halifax and Amherst Club Advocacy Chairs have had several on line, Skype meetings. Some have been more successful in making plans and discussing strategies, though there have been technology glitches and busy schedules, making it not always possible for full participation of members.
Three Truro club members participated in Take Back the Night in October, where a march to a central location ended with guest speakers discussing the issues of assault against females. The march presenters highlighted local personalities and activities intended to help eradicate this major concern. Our Truro Club was pleased to participate in this important action.
International Women’s Day on Mar. 8 will see the participation of some Zonta Club of Truro Area members attending the Women’s Resource Centre in Truro for a lunch and the screening of “Girl Rising”, a documentary on the hardships girls face globally. This joint activity should give rise to discussion and thought about Advocacy issues we can address.
The technological meetings have included discussion around Service Projects intended to support Advocacy goals, and the challenge of actively promoting Advocacy.
2015 Planned Actions
All of the Clubs in District One are supporting Zonta International's Just Say No to Violence Against Women campaign in various degrees. Here are some of the larger projects.
Zonta Club of Berskshire County- The club is planning a fundraiser function with the aim of increase the awareness of trafficking with the hope in decreasing it. They will be featuring a local activist, who is a former victim. A segment of the Nickolas Kristof documentary, “A Path Appears”, will be shown in conjunction with a panel discussion with representatives of law enforcement, survivors, victims, and others.
Their Z Club will also be participating by creating posters aimed at teens with the message that violence is not okay, giving information for local and national resources. This program may expand to other towns and high schools, possibly with an art show of the posters conveying that message that will be judged for prizes.
Zonta Club of West Suburban Boston- Along with a speaker from an abuse center and showing the film “Girl Rising, speak. She is a former trafficking victim who is speaking out to protect other women and girls from being tricked into trafficking themselves.
Zonta Club of Northampton- The club is holding a Spring Film Series with discussions on how these films lead to violence against women through the degradation and humiliation depicted in them.
Zonta Club of Bangor- Later this year, the Saint Andre Home will open as a shelter for female survivors of trafficking. In preparation for this needed service, Saint Andre provided the top notch GEMS training for those working with these victims/survivors. The Bangor Club was able to help sponsor the training, reducing the cost to participants and gaining the Club and Zonta important publicity.