Saturday, December 9, 2023

Zonta campaigning against gender-based violence

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Takurua Tawera, the chair of the White Ribbon Campaign NZ.

Zonta East Auckland is part of the international Zonta Says No Campaign against gender-based violence. It involves 16 days of activism from November 25 to December 12.

Locally, Zonta has undertaken to have a conversation with key people from the White Ribbon campaign, Ghandi Nivas, Woven Earth, Women’s Refuge and Shine. This is part 1 of a series

Let us say yes to acknowledging the work people are doing to make a difference to moving beyond just saying no to violence.

Gay Gallagher from Zonta East Auckland had the privilege of speaking with Takurua Tawera, the chair of the White Ribbon Campaign NZ.

White Ribbon Day, held on the first day of the international Zonta Says No Campaign on November 25, encourages people to wear a white ribbon to show their support against the use of violence towards women and girls.

Gallagher asked, ‘What is making the difference in your campaign’?

Tawera explained that from an earlier emphasis on naming, blaming and shaming, there has been a shift to encouraging men to be allies and positive agents of change, exploring ideas of what healthy masculinity means, and what respectful relationships can look like.

The emphasis is on appreciating the underlying issues and multiple factors that conditioned their feelings and behaviours.

Gallagher agrees that rather than focusing on deficits, the drive to encourage men to identify their strengths can, in Tawera’s words, ‘speak into the potential of the positiveness of their lives’.

Gallagher commends the emphasis on ‘Flipping the Script’, “for us all to be mindful of the language we choose, and the messages that are given to our boys. It is about connecting with empathy to challenge the stereotypical norms.”

Instead of the outdated “Boys will be Boys”, or the “Toughen up, boy” messages, replace them with “Boys will be kind, sensitive, caring and respectful”.

“An understanding and nurturing hug that signals there is a safe place with Dad might have a better long-term outcome. Such changes are within the control of us all.”

“Tawera believed we need to be brave to challenge attitudes and behaviour, but in a way that empowers others to make a positive change, and which serves as a role model for how to establish healthy reactions and relationships,” Gallagher said.

“One task is helping others understand how to come to peaceful resolutions. The philosophy of White Ribbon certainly ensures that we take a further step beyond just Saying No to Violence.

“It provides us with a positive way forward.”

Among many other positions, Tawera is co-chair (Māori Caucus) for Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga/National Network of Family Violence Services and is an experienced drug and addiction councillor, and a lecturer in cultural supervision.

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