It has been over 30 years since the murder of 14 young women at Polytechnique Montréal (December 6, 1989). This was an act of gender-based violence (GBV). They died because they were women. Unfortunately, GBV continues in Canada and across the globe. While all types of relationships can have violence and violence can and does happen from all genders, the reality is men are far more likely to show violence towards both women, Trans/non-binary folks, and other men. This makes it a men’s problem.
What is gender-based violence?
Gender refers to the roles and behaviours that society associates with being female or male. Rigid gender norms can result in stereotyping and curb our expectations of both women and men. A society’s understanding of gender changes over time and varies from culture to culture.
Everyone has the right to live free from violence. However, many folks face violence every day because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. This is referred to as GBV, and is a violation of human rights. If you look closely, you will see the roots of GBV all around you, in the jokes that demean 2STLGBQ people, in media messages that objectify women, and in the rigid gender norms imposed on young children.
This problem intersects with colonization and racism. Racialized folks, and especially Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people face higher levels of violence. It is time we put into action the calls of the MMIWG report. It’s time to welcome Queer folks into all spaces without harassment or violence. It’s time we start engaging young men to redefine what it means to be strong. It’s time for change.
16 Days of Action to end gender-based violence?
16 Days of action kicks off with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25th, was designated in 1999 by the United Nations General Assembly. The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were violently assassinated in 1960. In Canada, the 16 days include marking December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The days of action ends with World Human Rights Day on December 10.
- Join a march, start a school event/club, or share resources online.
- Support local women’s shelters and resource centres. They often have a call out for donations and supplies on their social media.
- Read and learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the MMIWG Report.
- Don’t make racist, sexist, trans, or homophobic comments/jokes. Engage in conversations with the folks around you who do.
These are just a few ways to help end GBV. It will take more than one person. It will take big acts and little acts. But together we can push for safety and support for all.
If you’re experiencing violence it is not your fault. You deserve support. Talk to a trusted adult or check out one of the following resources
- Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 (24 hours) and online chat
Canada wide service providing information and support to youth. They also offer txt message chat by sending the word CONNECT to 686868 or they have nationwide online chat through kidshelpphone.ca
- Klinic Crisis Line – 1-888-322-3019 or (204) 786-8686 (24 hours)
Provides counselling, support and information for people in crisis or distress.
- Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Services – 1-866-367-3276 (10am-9pm, Monday-Friday)
Counselling and support for farm, rural, or northern Manitoba youth. Chat or email available at supportline.ca.
- Teen Clinics
- A teacher you trust or your school counsellor.