Reaffirming our Dedication to Eradicate Gender-Based Violence

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Eradicating Gender-Based Violence

Approximately one in three women around the world have faced the harrowing reality of gender-based violence, a pervasive issue that extends its reach into Canadian workplaces. 

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign serves as a crucial platform to raise awareness, share survivor’s stories and unite against the pervasive nature of gender-based violence. 

Since its conception in 1991 by the United Nations, the 16 Days of Activism has evolved into a formidable platform for the unapologetic condemnation of gender-based violence. The annual campaign starts on November 25th and ends on December 10th. 

Why 16 Days?

Several crucial moments for women and gender-based violence fall within the 16 days of activism. 

On November 25, 1960, the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, were assassinated for their advocacy. Their sacrifice symbolizes the countless women who have lost their lives due to gender-based violence and serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle women and marginalized communities face worldwide. In 1999, the United Nations designated November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

On December 6, 1989, 14 young women were murdered at Polytechnique Montréal. This act of violent misogyny sent a shockwave throughout Canada and led Parliament to designate December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

The 16 Days of Activism ends on Human Rights Day to honour December 10th, 1948, when the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges. This landmark document enshrines the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Raising Awareness and Denouncing Gender-Based Violence 

Gender-based violence is all around us. It encompasses various forms of harm, discrimination and abuse.  It can be expressed physically and emotionally, and manifest in both subtle and overt ways.

The roots of GBV are all around us, although they may be difficult to see at first. They manifest in jokes that demean LGBTQ2S+ people, online harassment that targets young girls and workplace policies that objectify or demean women.

Recognizing the severity of this problem, some employers are actively taking measures to safeguard their employees. Despite these efforts, there is still a critical need for more comprehensive and impactful initiatives, such as the SAFE STEM Workplaces Initiative, led by WomanAct and SCWIST, that aims to provide enhanced access to legal support and services, and mobilize knowledge and promising practices to better protect women against GBV in the workplace. 

“Awareness is the first step towards change, and this campaign helps break the silence that often surrounds these issues,” explained Claudia Rivera, Training Specialist for the SafeSTEM Workplaces Project.

Eliminating Gender-Based Violence

While much work is being done to combat gender-based violence, there are several key areas where more can be done.

Engaging male allies is crucial in dismantling the deeply ingrained societal norms that contribute to gender-based violence. By fostering understanding, empathy and active participation from men, we can challenge and change harmful attitudes and behaviours. 

The role of technology in enabling gender-based violence must also be addressed. As our world becomes increasingly connected, it is crucial to develop strategies that mitigate the risks posed by online harassment and abuse.

Collaboration with industry leaders is another key component in cultivating safe work environments. By leveraging the influence and resources of organizations, we can implement policies and practices that actively promote equality, respect and zero tolerance for gender-based violence.

The path to eliminating gender-based violence requires holistic and collaborative efforts to bring about systemic change. But through this hard work, we can move towards a society and workplaces where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

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