This year’s International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 saw 80 community members attend the Macedon Ranges Family Violence Network launch of its 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
The event was held at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute reserve in what was a strong show of support for respecting women and calling out gender inequality.
The 16 days of activism is a global movement raising awareness of and challenging gender-based violence against women. It runs from November 25 to International Human Rights Day on December 10.
This year the theme of the state government movement is Respect Women: Call It Out.
The launch started with a welcome to country by Taungurung elder Aunty Jackie Stewart, then attendees heard guest speakers: Macedon Ranges mayor Janet Pearce who opened the launch, MC Eloise Forbes, Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Makenna Bryon and MRFVN coordinator Carolyn Neilson. They spoke passionately of the link between family violence and gender inequality and the gendered drivers of violence against women that needed to be challenged.
There was then a moving vigil honouring the 63 women and 21 children who have died this year in Australia as a result of family violence and placing of three large and 30 small orange statues representing those women and children in the Kyneton Mechanics Institute reserve.
The launch ended in a burst of community rising, uniting and resisting gender-based violence in the form of a flash mob of 30 people with lots of heart and soul performing the 1 Billion Rising Dance – a global dance movement that challenges gender-based violence against women.
“It was great to see so many people and of different ages and genders attending this launch, joining in the dance and so publicly taking a stand against gender based violence,” said flash mob dancer and MRFVN Cobaw Community Health representative Rhani Dean-Talbett.
The statues will remain in the grasslands until Friday December 6 so that community members can visit them and reflect on this loss and what we can do more as individuals and a community to stop gender-based violence.
The flash mob have been practising the 1 Billion Rising Dance under the instruction of the fantastic Sas Cook, well known in the Macedon Ranges Shire who runs Movement Zone dance studio in Castlemaine and who is passionate about social justice.
The dancers included local Kyneton Secondary College students, community members and local community and government organisational representatives and dancers who attended in solidarity from Castlemaine.
MRFVN thanks Zonta Club of Kyneton, Kyneton Men’s Shed, Central Victorian Primary Care Partnerships and Macedon Ranges Shire Council for supporting the launch.