Woman with thought bubbleThere was a chorus of voices calling for an end to gender-based violence in November and December.

On Nov. 19 and 20, the Ontario government brought together policy makers, service providers and activists for a summit on sexual violence and harassment or #SVHAP2015. Participants shared innovative ideas, discussed how to raise public awareness, support survivors, create safer campuses and workplaces, and spark a change in attitudes and behaviours. The Ontario government also released its second #ItsNeverOkay video and federal Minister for the Status of Women @PattyHajdu announced that the government would create a national action plan to address violence against women—a long sought-after commitment.

#InternationalMensDay and the #TransDayOfRemembrance also fell on these days, bringing attention to toxic masculinities and men’s mental health issues, and violence against trans* folks around the world.

A week later, the #16DaysofActivism Against Gender Violence highlighted the need to end violence against women and promote women’s human rights worldwide.

The annual #16Days campaign starts on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25 and ends on #HumanRightsDay on Dec. 10, symbolically connecting the issue of violence against women to human rights. Several other international days fall during this time, including International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, World AIDS Day, #GivingTuesdayCa, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Here in Canada, the #December6 anniversary of the #MontrealMassacre is one of the most important of the 16 Days, and many took to Twitter to remember the 14 women killed at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989.

Throughout the 16 Days, many activists and organizations also held events, shared resources and lobbied for further action on violence against women. For example, @femifesto launched a media guide for reporting on sexual violence called #usetherightwords, the federal government urged all Canadians to sign an online pledge to #EndViolence, and we published a series of 16 blogs on gender-based violence.

Now that the 16 days have passed, we’re winding down a year of incredible gender-based activism. Next month, we’ll look back at the progress made in 2015 and forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead in 2016.

In the meantime, happy holidays and all the best in the new year!

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