Earlier this month, AUPE marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Every year on December 6, we remember the women who have been killed by gender-based violence in Canada and we commit to changing the systems of oppression and the power dynamics that allow gender-based violence to exist. We also commemorate the lives of the 14 women who were murdered on this day in 1989 at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal because of their gender.
“AUPE is committed to eliminating violence against women and empowering our members,” said Sandra Azocar, Vice President and Chair of the Women's Committee. “But societal change that deals with this type of violence moves at a glacial pace. We need to look at more effective ways of making the significant changes that need to be made in our country, in our homes and in our workplaces to end gender-based violence.”
The Women's Committee recognizes that AUPE members who are racialized, Indigenous, elderly, and LGBTQIA2s+ are disproportionally affected by gender-based violence. AUPE also recognizes that violence against women is a labor issue. Forty percent of women who experienced domestic violence in Canada say they had difficulty maintaining a job or finding work, and eight and a half percent of women in Canada said they lost their jobs because of domestic abuse, making it even harder for women to leave unsafe situations in their homes.
We must also acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened these issues.
Research has shown that because women were forced to stay home in periods of lockdown, gender-based violence increased across the country. “Women were even more socially isolated over the last two and a half years because they were forced to stay home with their abusers," Azocar said.
Now referred to as the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ gender-based violence through the pandemic spiked, the effects of which we are still experiencing today. In 2021 there was a 46% increase in deaths caused by domestic violence in Canada compared to 2019.
This is unacceptable.
On December 6 the AUPE Women's Committee hosted an informative discussion with two members of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS): the executive director and staunch advocate of gendered violence prevention and intervention Jan Reimer, and Miranda Pilipchuk who works as the research and evaluation coordinator at ACWS. We spoke about moving forward with solutions that AUPE can implement to end gender-based violence.
AUPE is taking solid steps to combat gender-based violence and empower women when they need it most. In the new year, the Women’s Committee is willing to provide information, upon request from AUPE negotiating teams, to help build proposals for paid domestic violence leave from workplaces, “because we know that women need financial independence most in these situations,” Azocar said.
Women’s shelters offer free support and shelter for women and children. Find a shelter or call 1-866-331-3933 to be connected to a shelter near you.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911
Free, confidential help is available for AUPE members and their immediate family members (spouses and children). Call AUPE's Crisis Support Service line at 1-844-744-7026. This service is available even if the crisis is not work-related.