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story.lead_photo.caption For the next 16 days, the Zonta Club of Jefferson City will post a member of the community on their Facebook page with information on how they are fighting violence against women. Nanette Chun-Ming Ward is a founding member of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition and "works tirelessly to raise awareness of human trafficking and support local survivors in and around Central Missouri. Photo by Submitted photo

The Zonta Club of Jefferson City is starting its annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence today through Dec. 10 through the "Zonta Says No" campaign, committing the coming weeks to advocate the elimination of violence against women.

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to Zonta International. The group has used service and advocacy for more than a century to "help achieve a world free of violence against women and girls."

"The Zonta Club of Jefferson City takes pride in helping Zonta International promote the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence through the 'Zonta Says No' campaign," said Sarah Veile, president of the Zonta Club of Jefferson City. "It is just one of many ways we are helping to spread Zonta's message in an attempt to make our local community a place where every woman can achieve her full potential."

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the local Zonta Club's main advocacy will come through its Facebook page this year.

Each day, the group will post a picture of a new community leader involved in related groups — Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Service, HALO and the Pregnancy Help Center, to name a few — with information about their services or statistics on gender-based violence. They will also feature local government officials who have used their time in office to fight for the rights of women and families.

Joan Imhoff, secretary for the Zonta Club of Jefferson City, said the focus is to connect people experiencing abuse or a difficult situation with resources and make them aware of the people fighting for them. She said this year is especially important as everything is on the rise — suicide, depression, abuse and child abuse.

"When people pay attention to the campaign more because of issues occurring it's just good at this time to get it out there for people to see," Imhoff said. "If they need help, they're not alone, and they shouldn't be embarrassed to make contact with someone who can help."

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