BREVARD COUNTY — Each year, the Zonta Club of Melbourne participates in a worldwide service project from Nov. 25 through Dec. 10 as part of the international organization’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

These dates are significant to the nonprofit organization, which stands for the elimination of violence against women. Nov. 25 is recognized as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and Dec. 10 is recognized as Human Rights Day.

This year, the Zonta Club of Melbourne is asking business owners to light up their storefronts in orange to show support for Zonta’s mission for the elimination of violence against women.

Interested businesses can contact Zonta Club member Doris Larson by calling (321) 952-1443 for more information about ordering orange light bulbs and adding their names to its list of supporters.

“This is the first time that we’ve gone out to the community and asked them to be involved [in our service project],” Ms. Larson said. “We were inspired by other clubs around the world, especially the Paris club who lit up one of the bridges over the Seine in orange.”

Each year, Zonta International chooses an aspect of violence against women to focus on during its 16 Days of Activism campaign. Examples of this are human trafficking, domestic violence, women living in conflict areas, campus violence, and early marriage, according to Ms. Larson.

This year, the nonprofit organization has chosen to focus on child marriages, which affects 12 million girls each year who are married off before they are 18 years old.

“The problem is most of these countries are these girls are married by the age of 13,” Ms. Larson said. “They are given away as prizes, and we’re trying to raise that age. There are 39,000 girls in the world under the age of 18 who become a bride every single day.”

According to the “Zonta Says No” website, the consequences of a child bride giving birth often leads to complications and death in girls aged 15 to 19.

The Zonta Club has already helped 12 countries, primarily in Africa and India, end child marriage.

Child marriages are also strongly linked to lack of education, according to research found on the Zonta Club’s website.

The nonprofit found that more than 60% of women between the ages of 20-24 with little to no education were married before the age of 18. Similarly, girls with little to no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 as those with a secondary or higher education.

Businesses can feel free to participate in the Zonta Club of Melbourne’s light up orange campaign at any time during the 16-day service project, added Ms. Larson.

Those already participating include Merle Norman, The Hideaway Spa, El Chico, Yellow Dog Café, Melbourne High School, Florida Preparatory Academy, Merrill and Rinaldi Chiropractic Center, P. A., Barrier Island Pet Supply, Juice and Java, Melbourne Chamber of Commerce and Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce.

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Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 15 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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