The Elimination of Violence Against Women

This article focuses on the 16-day United Nations campaign focusing on the elimination of violence against women and Canada’s December 6th National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women. Within, you can find information on the campaign, initiatives, and the recent increase in violence against women.

UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25) marked the launch of the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign – a 16-day activism initiative that concludes with the day commemorating International Human Rights Day (December 10). This campaign has been led by the UN Secretary-General and UN Women since 2008, established in an effort to prevent and eliminate violence against female-identifying individuals across the globe. This global call for action aims to increase awareness, promote advocacy, and create opportunities for discussion surrounding challenges and solutions.

Video 1 – UN Women Executive Director on Campaign

The theme for this 2021 campaign is Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now. Part of this 16-day campaign includes several public events being coordinated across the globe, in addition to a number of iconic buildings and landmarks being ‘oranged’ in support of a violence-free future. Orange is the chosen colour to represent a brighter future, free of violence against women and girls.

The campaign also includes the launch of a new report with updated data on gender violence, in addition to a number of digital initiatives in which the public can participate. Interested in hearing from a number of speakers such as Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres and Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences Reem Alsalem? Watch the video below!

Video 2 – Speaker Series

Canada’s National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada established December 6th as a day dedicated to the observance of the National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women. Why December 6th? This day marks the anniversary of the 1989 massacre in which armed student Marc Lépine entered l’École Polytechnique de Montréal with a firearm, murdering 14 women and injuring 10 others in the name of “fighting feminism.”

Since 1991, Canadians observe this day dedicated to the remembrance of these 14 victims in addition to reflection on any women, girls, LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse individuals facing gender-based violence.

Figure 1 – l’École Polytechnique de Montréal Victims

This day is about remembering those who have experienced gender-based violence and those that have been lost to it. It is about taking action and achieving a nation free from gender-based violence. Achieving this requires those living in Canada to educate themselves, their families, and others on gender-based violence. The best way to do this? Centre the discussion around the voices of survivors.

The December 6th day of remembrance falls within the UN’s 16 days of their  UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.

Gender-Based Violence in Canada

You may be wondering what exactly gender-based violence refers to. Well, gender-based violence includes the various forms of abuse that women, girls, and Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people are at the highest risk of experiencing. This can be physical or emotional, presenting itself as name-calling, hitting, stalking, rape, sexual assault, or manipulation.

crop women fighting in kitchen
Figure 2 – Women Fighting

It is critical that we remember that anyone can be abused, no matter what their background, religion, or socioeconomic status is. However, women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals face a higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence. Some women face an even higher risk due to the additional discriminatory barriers they face, such as women with disabilities, Indigenous women, racialized women, trans and non-binary women, and those who have been made homeless or are under-housed.

crop anonymous black couple arguing together in bathroom
Figure 3 – Couple Fighting

In Canada, about every 6 days, a woman in Canada is killed by her partner. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this, causing spikes in gender-based violence in the country and around the world. Some police services have also noticed an increase in domestic violence reports, with 1 in every 10 women reporting they are very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home, according to a Statistics Canada survey on the pandemic.

In Ontario alone, the problem has intensified, with the Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH) reporting that 20% of the 70 shelters they represent have experienced an increase in crisis calls during the pandemic. The pandemic exacerbated the already existing crisis, forcing individuals to stay home, unable to remove themselves from their abusers, leaving many with limited options for escape or assistance. OAITH has locations in several GTA cities, Windsor, and British Columbia, usually receiving about 200 calls on a weekly basis. However, since the outbreak, that number has doubled to 400!

To learn more about gender-based violence in Canada, see the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

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