International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters to escape abuse.
On any given night, about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full. (Stats Can)
It’s 2018, and we live in a world where gender-based violence is still one of the most pervasive and preventable human rights abuses around the world.
November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. On this day, the United Nations’ Orange the World campaign begins 16 days of activism leading up to Human Rights Day on December 10. This year’s Orange the World theme is #HearMeToo. So, look for the hashtags: #OrangeUrWorld, #OrangeTheWorld, #HearMeToo, #EndVAW
The goal of #HearMeToo is to unite and amplify the diverse voices of women and women’s movements across the world. In amplifying those calls, we must demand that our workplaces, our government, and our organizations, from public to private, all make improvements to ensure violence and harassment has no place in our society.
In 1993, the UN General Assembly defined Violence Against Women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Things to know about gender-based violence:
- Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16
- Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Out of the 83 police-reported intimate partner homicides in 2014, 67 of the victims (over 80%) were women.
- There were 1,181 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada between 1980 and 2012, according to the RCMP.7 However, according to grassroots organizations and the Minister of the Status of Women the number is much higher, closer to 4,000.
- Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women.
- Violence happens even more often to women and girls who identify as transgender, lesbian, bisexual or intersex, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and minorities, those living with disabilities and illness, and those living in humanitarian crises.
It takes courage to come forward despite stigma, shame, and the perceived or very real power of the abuser(s). All of this further punishes the victims. Victims of rape. Sexual Assault. Human trafficking. Genital mutilation. Child marriage. Battery and psychological abuse among intimate partners. Stalking. Cyber-harassment. Slavery.
November 25 is just one day on the calendar. But, it should serve as a stark reminder that we all need to do more to end gender-based violence in our lifetime.
At work, Union Members should report any act of harassment or violence they see or experience. If a Member does not feel safe going to their Union Steward or management, please contact your Union Representative.
In the end, we must all work together to create work spaces that are free from harassment and violence, and where consent comes first.
How can you help?
- Be an advocate every day. That means speaking up to stop incidents of violence and harassment and reporting those you witness or experience.
- Listen well. Be a safe person for someone to talk to about what’s happening in their life, and provide support to those people.
- Support local shelters for women and children. Shelters provide a safe place for those families to go when they need to get out in an emergency. These programs also help those women and children rebuild their lives.