Statement from Minister Sajjan on International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

From: Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, today issued the following statement:

“Whether it occurs in Canada or outside its borders, sexual and gender-based violence is unacceptable.

“In Canada, women are more likely than men to experience domestic violence and sexual assault. While anyone can experience violence, girls and young women, Indigenous women, lesbian, gay and bisexual people and women living in remote regions are at greater risk of violence.

“Globally, almost 1 in 3 women have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence or both at least once in their lives. We need to recognize that behind these numbers are diverse people from all walks of life who have the right to live in dignity, free of fear, coercion, violence and discrimination.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified violence against women and girls globally, to the point that this increase in violence is now referred to as a shadow pandemic. Domestic violence helplines and shelters in our communities all over the world continue to receive an increasing number of calls for help. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that every year 12 million girls globally were forced into marriage before their 18th birthday. Now, we anticipate seeing an additional 10 million cases in the next 10 years as a result of the pandemic.

“As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are also kicking off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. The theme for this year’s campaign is Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!

“The colour orange represents the hope for a brighter future, free from all forms of violence against women and girls, because everyone, no matter where they are born or what gender they are, should be able to walk through life in security, with equal human rights and dignity.

“Ending sexual and gender-based violence and achieving gender equality is the best way to build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world. That is why the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence is at the centre of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.

“Since the launch of this policy in 2017, Canada has allocated over $231 million in new project funding in response to sexual and gender-based violence. Canada is one of the largest international donors to these efforts. We invest in girls’ and women’s rights organizations and civil society movements to end violence and harmful practices and shift social norms.

“And we are seeing results. More than 30 million people were reached in the last 2 years by projects that help prevent, respond to and end sexual violence, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

“Partnering with civil society organizations, such as with Oxfam Canada through its Creating Spaces project, is helping to reduce violence against women and girls and the prevalence of child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

“Strong advocacy efforts by civil society organizations have contributed to changes to the legal minimum age of marriage for girls in Indonesia and the Philippines, helping to combat child, early and forced marriages.

“Today is a day to reflect on how each of us can take action toward supporting these partner organizations and toward preventing and eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.”

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