Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the beginning of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Women have progressed leaps and bounds since first being recognized as “persons” in Canada in 1929. We can vote, we can lead corporate and non-profit organizations, we can hold public office, we can play professional sports, and we can mobilize to demonstrate against injustice. But gender discrimination, inequality and patriarchal values persist and they lead to the very real and current problem of violence against women (VAW).
One in two women in Canada has experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.1 That’s fifty percent of all Canadian women! Can you imagine what that statistic would be if it encompassed emotional abuse too?
If you think that VAW is an individual or private problem that doesn’t concern you, it’s time to take a closer look at the issue. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, articulated it best when she said, “Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. It imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price.”2
You see, when a woman experiences intimate partner violence, sexism, harassment, or discrimination of any kind, it will have serious impacts on her mental and physical well-being. Those impacts ultimately interfere with her ability to live and to work. It impacts her ability to realize her full potential. It affects the level of care she can give to her children and loved ones. From there, the butterfly effect sets in and the woman’s children and her community live with the consequences of the violence she was subjected to.
That’s why it’s so important to take action against gender-based violence. The 16 Days of Activism campaign is a call to action. It encourages you to consider the ways you can help eliminate VAW through tangible actions — because actions matter.
Here are some ideas about how to join in the crusade to end VAW once and for all:
- speak up when you witness sexist behaviour or violence
- volunteer for a local women’s organization
- donate to VAW organizations
- engage your friends and family in discussions about VAW
- challenge dated concepts about gender roles
Do you have other ideas about how you can help? We’d love to hear from you! Follow our 16 Days of Activism campaign on social media and share your pledge to work to end VAW with the hashtag #16DaysPledge. You can find us on Facebook at @IntervalHouseTO, on Twitter at @Interval_House, or visit our website at https://www.intervalhouse.ca/16days.
Let’s join together as allies to end gender-based violence for a more harmonious, just and equitable world.