I have spent much of my career and volunteer work advancing gender equality, including championing and developing services for women fleeing from violence. The statistics on women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals who experience gender-based violence in their lifetimes are sobering– over half of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
According to the United Nations, “some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrants and refugees, Indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those living through humanitarian crises.” If you have not experienced gender-based violence yourself, you likely know someone who has. In my role as Lieutenant Governor, equality and inclusion are a key area of focus for my mandate, because I believe that in order to end violence against women, we must educate ourselves and others about ways to get involved and support those in need.
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the launch of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. These days of awareness include December 6, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, in remembrance of the 14 women murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in an act of gender-based violence.
There are many ways we can support women and those affected by gender-based violence, starting with speaking out. Women and Gender Equality Canada suggests the following steps to be an ally:
- Listening: be open to learning from the experiences of others
- Believing: support survivors and those affected by violence
- Speaking out: add your voice to call out violence
- Intervening: find a safe way to help when you see acts of gender-based violence
- Acting: give your time to organizations working to end violence
Over the next 16 days, here are some resources for education and action in British Columbia and Canada:
- Find out ways to get involved from Status of Women in Canada.
- Learn about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Learn about Gender Based Analysis, a tool used in the BC Public Service to create awareness on how people experience the world differently based on their relative position in society.
- Review this tip sheet from the Canadian Women’s Foundation on how to help someone living with violence.
- Check out the YWCA Metro Vancouver’s list of events happening around Vancouver in support of these awareness days.
- Attend a 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign event at Vancouver Island University.
- Participate in the Moose Hide Campaign, an Indigenous-led movement committed to ending violence against women and children.
- Attend a vigil in your community in honour of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.
To learn more about the Lieutenant Governor’s work on equality and inclusion, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. If you or your organization are working to end gender-based violence, let me know. I am interested to hear about initiatives, campaigns and work being done throughout our province.