District 20 holds annual conference emphasizing stance against hate speech

District 20 held its annual conference in Yyteri, Pori, Finland, from 9-11 October. The theme was, "Get inspired – leave your mark on Zonta's new century." Despite the strict safety precautions this year, members found it to be a wonderful opportunity to meet again, get inspired and feel the warm Zonta spirit.

A press statement is traditionally released during the conference; this year, the message was, "Respectful interactions instead of hate speech." The goal is to draw attention to how hate speech in its most serious forms is typically directed at women. This is a research fact stated also in the Government Action Plan for Gender Equality, a joint instrument of the government ministries in Finland to promote gender equality and eliminate gender-based discrimination.

District 20 is calling for polite and respectful behavior in all spheres of life, with a special focus on approaching municipality elections in Finland next spring. Hate speech and harassment through various media may prevent both women and men from standing for election and thus narrow down the democracy based on equal representation. Hate speech is not acceptable, and it is not covered by freedom of speech.