Nov. 25 marks the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence that begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on Dec. 10, the International Human Rights Day. The 16 Days campaign has been used as an organizing strategy around the world since 1991 to call for elimination of all forms of gender-based violence.
Several significant dates are highlighted throughout the 16 days including the Dec. 6 anniversary of the Montreal Massacre – where 14 women were murdered at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. Governments, civil society organizations and individuals around the world are invited to mark the 16 days with events and actions that increase awareness of the issue and create opportunities for discussions about challenges and solutions.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 67 per cent of Canadians know at least one woman who has experienced gender-based violence. This violence results from the deeply ingrained gender inequalities and discrimination that shapes our laws, governance structures and collective and individual attitudes. The Canadian Federation of University Women, Victoria joins others in calling for concerted actions at all levels of government to tackle these multifaceted issues.
In April 2021, the government of Canada announced historic investments to develop a national action plan on violence against women and gender-based violence. Now, we need an all-of-government approach to develop and implement the strategic timelines and policies necessary for the plan to be successful. To combat systemic problems, we need systemic solutions – policies that support survivors and their families, promote responsive legal and justice systems, bolster prevention strategies, and cultivate our economic and social infrastructure policies to eliminate barriers to equality and justice are all part of the solution.
During the 16 Days of Activism campaign and beyond, our actions matter. Taking concrete action, however small or large, creates a ripple effect that can lead to the elimination of violence against women and girls in communities around the world. Here are some of the many actions you can take to raise awareness and generate action to end violence against women:
Spread the word about the 16 Days of Activism campaign. Share your posts on social media using the hashtags #16Days #OurActionsMatter #EndVAW. Speak up when you hear inappropriate or degrading jokes and language. Write a letter to your MP on the urgent need to implement the national action plan. Light a candle at 5:10 p.m. on Dec. 6 to commemorate the 14 victims of the Montreal Massacre. Say the victims’ names and share your vigil on social media.
We can work together for change.
Shirley Lucyk, president
Canadian Federation of University Women, Victoria