In past years on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, demonstrators would fill the streets demanding action to reduce and end gender-based violence.
With a global pandemic, the Canadian Women’s Foundation traded in rally banners for keyboards to host an online virtual event on Nov. 25 and kick off a 16-day campaign.
Gender-based violence differs from other forms of violence because “it is very difficult to run away and there are many barriers of control, shame, and judgment placed on the women,” CWF President Paulette Senior said.
Andrea Gunraj, the foundation’s vice-president of public engagement, said, Canada requires a better action plan to help intervene to stop violence against women and offer a more robust follow-up plan to support women.
“We need an emergency level action plan,” Gunraj said. “Every six days, a woman is killed. That is way too high. We need a high-level action plan to prevent this.”
The federal government contributed $100 million in emergency funding to organizations on Nov. 25 that provides support and services to people experiencing and escaping gender-based violence across Canada.
“We are committed to ending gender-based violence and to build a future in which everyone has a real and fair chance at success,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
“We thank the survivors, women’s rights advocates, and community organizations for their exceptional courage,” he said. “We would also like to thank front-line workers who, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, have ensured that victims and survivors of violence continue to receive the support and services that they need.”
Even before the pandemic, a woman was killed by her intimate partner every six days across Canada. Since lockdowns and quarantines have been instituted to control the spread of the virus, domestic violence and calls to crisis lines have increased. Women, girls, and trans and non-binary people face a higher risk of violence at home with COVID-19 isolation restrictions.
The CWF’s virtual event attracted 100 viewers who had the opportunity afterwards to ask questions and seek advice on how to push for national action on the issue.
The Body Shop Canada is supporting the campaign with a “Come Together, Act Together” gift line that will donate a dollar of every sale to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Hilary Lloyd, the company’s vice-president of marketing, said all proceeds will go to “Out of Violence” programs that provide support for women who want to flee abusive partners.
By using the #16days hashtag, Canadians on any social media platform can help bring awareness to the campaign against gender-based violence.