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Megan Radavich Addresses the Closing Plenary

Megan Radavich addresses the Closing Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA. The Closing Plenary was sponsored by The Fetzer Institute.

Good afternoon. It is my honor and privilege to be here today, representing the more than 26,000 members of Zonta International in 63 countries around the world, working to build a better world for women and girls. As I have met and talked to many of you here this week, some of you have asked, why Zonta International, not a faith-based organization, would be here at the Parliament of World Religions. 

The truth is, I think this week has shown that we all have far more in common than we do differences. Zonta International envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights, and every woman is able to achieve her full potential.

In such a world, women have access to all resources and are represented in decision-making positions on an equal basis with men. In such a world, no woman or girl lives in fear of violence. That is a vision I think we can all support. However, sadly, it is far from reality for most women and girls today. Instead, we see new challenges to realizing our vision for gender equity and have witnessed the rollback of women’s rights in many countries around the world. Despite these challenges, the Zonta International community remains committed to that vision.

One of the key ways we are working to raise awareness of and take action to end violence against women and girls specifically is through our Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women campaign. The campaign was launched in 2012. At the time, Zonta International was working on several projects focused on ending violence against women in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Oceania. In partnership with UN Women and the UN Trust Fund to end violence against women. 

Simultaneously, many of our clubs were working on gender-based violence issues locally. But we wanted to find a way to unite our members around the world to use their voices in support of a common goal.

The answer was Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women. In the 12 years since the campaign started, it has grown every year. It is raising awareness of the global epidemic of women’s rights violations, uniting Zonta clubs worldwide in conducting impactful advocacy actions to fight violence against women and gender inequality, influencing the making and implementation of laws, and changing gender-based attitudes and behaviors to end violence against women. 

I am personally inspired by the hundreds of examples of actions taken by Zonta clubs through the Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women campaign each year.

From supporting local women’s shelters in Germany to training frontline workers to provide gender-responsive services in the Philippines, working to end child marriage right here in the United States, and lighting up communities across the world in orange to bring much-needed attention to the epidemic of gender-based violence globally, the Zonta Says No campaign is about awareness and action.

The power and beauty of this campaign is it is global, but it takes place in hundreds of communities in 63 countries. It brings together tens of thousands of individuals around the world to take action to end violence against women and girls based on local context and community needs.

We are now gearing up for the 2023 16 Days of Activism beginning on the 25th of November. And we welcome all of you who share our vision for a world where no woman or girl lives in fear of violence to join us in our efforts. Visit and find a Zonta community near you to use your voice to end violence against women and girls during the 16 days and beyond.

As we near the end of this Parliament and prepare to go our separate ways, I for one will leave hopeful for the future. Thanks to the thousands of you that have shown up here in Chicago in solidarity for freedom and human rights for all people.

Thank you.

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