Zonta Club of Kowloon organized parallel event at NGO CSW67

The Zonta Club of Kowloon, Hong Kong, teamed up with the Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres to organize a virtual parallel event at the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This event provided the club a platform to advocate their viewpoints on gender equality, women's rights and ending violence against women.

The club's event was "Innovative and Technology Strategies for Addressing Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence in Asia." Two flyers have been produced and sent to thousands of contacts in CSW, Zonta clubs worldwide, community leaders, policy planners and social service organizers.

Seven speakers in Asia were invited to speak on this topic. They elaborated on the innovative strategies implemented by their organizations to address sexual violence and intimate partner violence. The speakers were:

  • Sisi Liu, Director of the Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres, reported that their NGO organizes a women's helpline and offers free legal advice, counseling, and casework to help victims of violence. Their helpline receives more than 5000 calls annually, and their free Legal Advice Clinic services more than 200 women yearly.
  • Winnie Teoh, the club's advocacy chair, talked about the club's sponsored research of 'Hong Kong Women's Experiences of Violence 2021.' The study has established an empirical database for gender-based violence. This pool of statistics would provide stakeholders with real-life statistics to help plan their policy and service work. In addition, the club organized an advertorial project in 3 major newspapers in Hong Kong. The objective is to encourage violence victims to seek help. Their follow-up with the NGOs shows a hike in women calling the helplines after they read the advertorial.
  • Doris Chong is an executive director at the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women. Doris talked about combating digital gender-based violence and image-based sexual violence in Hong Kong. In 2021-22, they assisted 63 victims in filing 158 requests to take down images and reported 1053 links, resulting in an 86% successful takedown rate of unconsented images.
  • Sandy Sanchez Montano is the undersecretary and chair of the Philippine Commission on Women. Sandy is also a Zontian from the Zonta Club of Cavite. Sandy noted that violence against women is the most common violation of human rights. Only 40% of women violence victims reported to the police or sought help. She elaborated on the types & impacts of violence, the cycle of abuse and the barriers to leaving violent partners.
  • Shailey Hingorani is a senior advocacy, research, and communications advisor for the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). AWARE is the leading advocacy group for women's rights and gender equality in Singapore. Shaila pointed out three major challenges to her work: 1. Bystander inaction; 2. Victim blaming, and; 3. Cyber victimization for advocacy. She proposed two strategies: bystander intervention and broader normative development.
  • Professor Carol Chih Chieh Lin is a distinguished professor from the School of Law at National Yang-Ming Chiao Tung University and the chair of the Financial Ombudsman Institute in Taipei. Carol advised that in recent years in Taiwan, various laws have been passed to protect different forms of sexual violence and intimate partner violence in heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
  • Busayapa Srisompong is a human rights lawyer and founder of the NGO SHero in Thailand. She advised that Shero Thailand is committed to eliminating the culture of domestic violence in Thailand by providing legal and emotional support. SHero has partnered with LINE, a communication software, to work with lawyers and case managers to assist victims directly.

Altogether 250 participants from 32 countries joined the event. The overwhelming support indicates the concern that gender-based violence receives in Asia and globally.