If you see something, say something. If you need help, reach out.
20 years ago, the United Nations declared November 25th the first International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Two decades later, the situation remains dire for many women and girls, including right here at home.
Gender-based violence is violence that is committed against people based on their gender, gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. According to Status of Women Canada, Indigenous women and girls; LGBTQ2 and gender diverse individuals; women living with a disability; and women living in Northern, rural and remote communities are at even greater risk of gender-based violence.
Last year, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters reported that every six days, a current or former intimate partner kills a woman in Canada, and Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a rise in violence and harassment at work, especially for workers on the front lines in public-facing jobs. This is particularly concerning in health care where a majority of the workers are women and often racialized.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health reported last year that health care workers experience four times the rate of workplace violence than any other profession. The Committee reported factors such as complex patient needs; staffing shortages; aging health care infrastructure; and inadequate security personnel and response systems.
Today also marks the start of 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence’ which leads to World Human Rights Day on December 10th.
The 16 Days are an opportunity for all of us to call out and speak up about gender-based violence and to renew our commitment to ending violence against women, girls, LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two Spirit), and gender diverse individuals.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, know that there is help available to you.
The Family Violence Information Line is available toll-free, seven days a week in over 170 languages at 310-1818. An anonymous, online chat in English is also available from noon to 8 pm daily.
If you experience anxiety or vulnerability due to traumatic or crisis events occurring at work, call AUPE’s Crisis Support Service at 1-844-744-7026. Crisis support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.