During the month of December there are two important and impactful campaigns to bring awareness to the issue of gender based violence.
December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (also known as White Ribbon Day), in Canada. We honor and take action on December 6th, because on that day in 1989 a gun-man murdered fourteen women and injured ten others in the Engineering Department at the Université de Montréal.
The gun-man specifically chose to carry out his attack in the engineering department because he "hated feminists" and was convinced they were all feminists. A survivor of the attack reported him yelling out: "You're women, you're going to be engineers. You're all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.". After the attack he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. In his suicide note he confirmed the attack was motivated by sexism, as he stated “...I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker.”. This tragic event was a wake up call to Canadians that the issue of gender based violence is a serious and critical one. This day of remembrance is especially important to me, as I am a woman who studied engineering.
The second campaign takes place from November 25th - December 10th, and is the internationally recognized “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence" campaign. This campaign symbolically links November 25th (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and December 10th (International Human Rights Day).
In light of these two awareness campaigns, I wanted to share some ways in which we can all take action in our communities.
Below is a short list of easy ways you can get involved to help stop gender based violence in your community:
- Take action by sending a tweet to your MP (use the link for an automated tweet tool made by the YWCA Canada)
- Write to your City Councillor to let them know that ending gender based violence is important to you (You can find out your Toronto City Councillor here)
- Talk to your children (of all genders) about gender based violence and teach them about the importance of consent
- Ensure your home, workplace, school, and community spaces are safe for women and girls
- Ensure your workplace has a Sexual Harassment & Gender Inclusion Policy in place and that annual training is conducted on this policy (if your workplace doesn't have one, consider bringing this up with HR)
- Use the Speak Out campaign tools to stand up against negative media images of women and girls
- Donate your time and/or money to organizations that work to end gender based violence (suggested orgs are listed below)
- Click here to read tips from the Canadian Women's Foundation to help someone who is living with violence
- Click here to find support if you are living with violence
- Download the 2016 Take Action Kit from the 16 Days Campaign website here, for many more ideas
Looking for an organization to support in Canada? Check out:
- Canadian Women's Foundation
- YWCA Canada
- YWCA Toronto
- Support your local Women's shelter - options in Ontario listed here
There are so many simple was to get involved and help make change. Let's make ending gender based violence a reality!