By Gemma Green, Programme Action Officer
Soroptimist International of Bristol (SI Bristol) has been supporting projects to raise the standards of living for women and girls since 1920. We are a service club and over the years have focused on projects in Bristol, the UK and internationally. Our aims are to educate, empower and enable women to help them to improve their lives and we do this through raising awareness, lobbying and fundraising through a programme of action.
For SI Bristol a Zero Tolerance City means an active city. One where we will not wait for change, but we will be pro-active about making it happen. It is a city that will not stop until gender-based violence is eliminated and raising awareness through the Zero Tolerance Initiative is essential to making this happen. The Soroptimist vision for Bristol is that individuals who experience gender-based violence are heard and dealt with with respect and compassion. That communities and neighbours do not feel that it is something that is hidden and that individuals feel safe to disclose the harm caused without fear. It is also about education for perpetrators, making it clear that their behaviour will not be tolerated, but also to provide opportunities to allow change to happen.
Bristol is a diverse, exciting and ever changing city. The Initiative means, firstly that we have to acknowledge that gender-based violence is a real issue for many of its residents. Positively, the existence of the Initiative means that we are a city working towards change. Bristol has a proud history of firsts. SI Bristol was the first Soroptimist group to be formed, so it seems right that Bristol is the first city to adopt this Initiative. It also means that as citizens of Bristol we all need to play a part in achieving this, as organisations, as partners, as businesses, as neighbours and as individuals.
As soon as we heard about the pledge we were keen to be part of it. It symbolises what we expect for ourselves as Soroptimists, as women of this city and for other residents both male and female. Lives that are safe and free from violence, abuse, exploitation or harassment are essential for a thriving city where all residents have equal opportunities in their communities. SI Bristol are 100% behind what Bristol Zero Tolerance are aspiring to achieve. Only through working together as agencies, communities and individuals will we see the vision realised and we are proud to support this in Bristol.
We would like to continue to support Bristol Zero Tolerance directly through action. The aims of the Initiative are closely linked to the aims of Soroptimism. The first step is to raise awareness and educate others on the impact of gender-based violence and SI Bristol are also committed to this. We recently joined one of our sister clubs SI Weston Super Mare to march through Bristol handing out bookmarks to raise awareness of where to get help if you are in an abusive relationship. We hope to work with Bristol Zero Tolerance in the future to further the reach of the Initiative through mutually beneficial action.