Written by Katie Sills, Manager, Student Rights and Responsibilities Office, and Carmen Law, Director, Belonging, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Women's rights activists have observed November 25 as a day against gender-based violence since 1981. This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women begins the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
“The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs through International Human Rights Day on 10 December.” (UN Women)
The theme is a double meaning: it reminds Canadians of the injustice of gender-based violence (GBV) and brings attention to how society dismisses and minimizes attitudes and behaviours contributing to GBV. It highlights how GBV is not just a private issue, but a systemic cycle that all Canadians have a role in ending. "It’s Not Just" asks all Canadians to take action against GBV by addressing the beliefs and behaviours that perpetuate violence.
The goal of the 16 Days of Activism is to amplify the voices of survivors and activists to supporting women’s organizations and strengthening feminist movements.
What is Gender Based Violence?
Gender Based Violence (GBV) refers to harmful acts directed at someone based on their gender (UNHCR). GBV often acts as an umbrella term when talking about different forms of violence. GBV can take many forms including (but not limited to) physical, sexual, verbal/emotional, social, financial, harassment, stalking, and cyber abuse.
The risk and experience of violence of women with additional marginalized identities are even greater due to the additional discrimination and barriers they face. This includes women with disabilities, Indigenous women, racialized women, trans and non-binary people, and women who are homeless or underhoused. The intersection of two or more characteristics may increase a person's risk and vulnerability to violence (Women & Gender Equality Canada). The intersectionality of the identities cannot be forgotten or ignored.
A few global stats…
- 1 in 3: More than 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence during their lifetime
- 1 in 5: In 2021, nearly 1 in 5 women aged 20-24 were married before turning 18
- 40%: Less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help of any sort
A few Canadian stats…
- In 2018, 44% of women reported experiencing some form of violence (psychological, physical or sexual violence) by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
- Women are five times more likely than men to experience sexual assault (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
- Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be missing or murdered (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019)
- Approximately every 6 days, a woman in Canada is killed by their partner (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
Here are a few ways you can make a difference:
- Learn more about the impacts and risks of gender-based violence
- Learn more about a trauma informed approach to supporting a survivor
- Learn more about local and SLC resources
- Support local organizations
- Amplify voices of survivors and grassroots organizations
- Advocate for policy changes
Here is a list of Canadian organizations:
- Ending Violence Association of Canada
- Canadian Women’s Foundation
- Assaulted Women’s Hotline
- Fem’aide (French only)
- Courage to Act
- SLC Student Rights and Responsibilities Office (tri-campus)
- SLC Student Wellness and Accessibility (tri-campus)
- Belonging, Human Resources and Organizational Development (tri-campus)
Watch for information about the upcoming National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6.