The Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, USA, recently expanded its Red Dress Project to raise awareness of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and its true significance by bringing attention to all the murdered or missing individuals.
The club displayed eight red dresses and sweaters around their community, representing the eight individuals murdered in the local area from 2015 to 2017. Although they wish they could present a dress and sweater each time someone is murdered or missing, they do not have enough trees in their valley to display them.
Constantly, the club members hear of another individual taken from the world too soon and believe that all violence must cease. No one has the right to lose their lives to domestic violence or any violence for that fact.
The club hopes that explaining the importance of the Red Dress Project will bring awareness that the community must work together to prevent this from continuing to happen.
Roughly 35% of women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Although Native Americans/Alaskan or Native Hawaiians make up 1% of their local population, violence against women is more prevalent with that group than any other race.
The Santa Clarita Valley homicide rate is less than Los Angeles County but is still higher than the "Best Performing Community," which the club feels is still too high.
On 24 February, the associate attorney general Vanita Gupta announced two new resources for law enforcement from their office about violence against women. Reducing violent crimes against women has become the top priority of the Department of Justice. They understand that they can't rid the country of it, but they can help by educating and adding resources to help curb the violence. The new resources are:
Since 1987, October has been Violence Against Women Awareness Month, but the club questions why we can't make the awareness all year long? Violence against women doesn't stop the other eleven months, so why should we? Therefore, continuing the Red Dress Project in spring will allow the club to continue its Zonta Says NO: Violence Against Women mission.
The Red Dress appeared at the local libraries, community centers, COC, City Hall, the Saugus Swap Meet and the Newhall Farmers Market. It started on Women's Day, 8 March, and continued until the National Red Dress Day, 5 May.
Since 2010, 5 May has been known as the Red Dress Day in North America and was recently made into a national day in 2021. Red Dress Day aims to create awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). All across Canada and the USA, red dresses hang in public areas to generate awareness of this appalling violence. The club supports this day in honor of all indigenous individuals and women murdered or missing. They encourage everyone to wear red in support on 5 May and every year to come.
The City of Santa Clarita presented the club with a proclamation on 26 April in their support for the murdered and missing indigenous and all women of our valley.
Back in 2016, the club decided that this should be the new project. It became a joint effort with the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, and the city. The red dresses were displayed around the Santa Clarita Valley for two 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 two weeks. They believe that their community should be aware of domestic violence's issues and its effects. Passionate about advocating to end violence against women and girls, they want to make gender-based violence a problem that everyone should focus on and help eradicate here in their community and the world. No woman should live in fear of violence.
To learn more about the Santa Clarita Valley Red Dress Project, the club invites you to visit their website: www.SCVZonta.org/advocacy.