“No one should face violence because of who they are. Yet, for far too many women, girls, youth, and people of diverse gender identities and expressions, this is their terrifying reality.
Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we recommit to calling out and speaking up against acts of gender-based violence, here in Canada and around the world.
This year’s campaign, 16 Days and Beyond, recognizes that ending gender-based violence is not something we can achieve in 16 days – it requires meaningful action from all of us, all year-round. Now it’s up to us to be better. To do better.
This year, we also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which was initiated by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Over 6,000 organizations in approximately 187 countries have participated in this global movement to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls since 1991, reaching 300 million people. Canada is proud to work closely with global partners to commemorate this anniversary, which provides an opportunity to increase awareness, promote advocacy and reflect on the work that remains.
The COVID-19 crisis has magnified existing inequities and underscored the need for urgent action. Throughout the pandemic, women have supported their children and communities, youth have missed out on educational and training opportunities, and gender-diverse individuals have been cut off from their support systems. The pandemic has impacted us all, and for those facing violence, the impacts have been severe. Organizations providing gender-based violence related supports and services have reported a significant increase in demand and a rise in the severity of the cases.
We need to ensure that women in all their diversity are safe, that they have access to the same economic opportunities, and that their loved ones are being cared for. Since April 2020, the Government of Canada has supported over 1,200 organizations providing gender-based violence supports and services, ensuring more than 1.3 million people have a safe place to turn. We’re working with partners, Indigenous leaders, and provinces and territories to advance a new, 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. This is supported by a historic investment of $601.3 million over five years through Budget 2021. We have also introduced reforms to both strengthen gender-based violence laws and ensure survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence are treated fairly within our justice system.
Gender-based violence has no place in Canada, and we will continue to work to end it in all its forms. This is the Canada we all deserve: where everyone is free from violence, harassment, and discrimination.
As Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, and on behalf of the Government of Canada, I encourage everyone to join in participating in the 16 Days of Activism campaign, speak up against acts of gender-based violence, listen and learn from survivors, and think about we how we can build a more inclusive and equal future for everyone.”