Today, November 25th, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It kicks off the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, ending on International Human Rights Day on December 10th.
Every year we take these 16 days to remember all the women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence, and commit ourselves to work together to end violence against women once and for all.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was created by the United Nations to raise awareness about the worldwide epidemic of gender-based violence. This day was chosen to commemorate the political assassination of the three sisters on this very day in 1960. The Mirabal sisters were murdered for their resistance to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They have since become inspirational feminist icons not only in their home country but also around the world.
The Mirabel sisters are part of the larger group of the thousands of women we lose every year worldwide to gender-based violence. In Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. However, gender-based violence is not only homicide but can take on many other forms. 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted. A staggering almost half a million women are sexually assaulted every year in Canada alone, with girls aged 13-15 being the most at risk. More than 1 in 10 Canadian women say they have been stalked by someone in a way that made them fear for their life. And on any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women, along with their 3,000 children, are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
We are living in an epidemic of violence against women and girls. An epidemic that gets more extreme when we consider women who are further marginalized. When we consider other factors such as race, sexual orientation, age and more in addition to one’s gender, the levels of violence increase.
Eight out of 10 Indigenous women in Canada have experienced some form of family violence in their lives. Only two out of every 10 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women is ever solved. 60% of women living with a disability experience some form of violence. 22 trans women were murdered in the US and Canada this year, nearly double that of last year – 19 of whom were black women and women of colour.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 days of Activism are a call to recognize the ongoing impact of gender-based violence on individuals, our communities and our society at large. It is a demand to not see violence as an inevitable aspect of living as a woman in this country.
The ability to live our lives free of violence is a human rights issue. Women should not be censoring themselves in their homes, in public, at their jobs and online in order to feel safe. Our journey of change should begin with ensuring safety to all and end with the full achievement of gender equality.
Join the Canadian Women’s Foundation in calling for the end of gender-based violence in Canada and around the world. Support our GEN1 campaign to build the first generation to experience real gender equality. Share our tip sheets and facts on violence against women. Take the healthy relationships quiz and pledge to create healthy love around you. Challenge the kinds of attitudes that normalize violence against women.
And, most importantly, support the women and girls around you to prevent and address violence in their lives.
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