On National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, PSAC remembers the fourteen young women who were killed at l’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989, because they were women, and today, PSAC also recommits to ending all forms of gender-based violence.
On this day, we remember
Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz
In Canada today:
75,000 women and children seek shelter from violence and abuse each year;
Homicide rates are seven times higher for Indigenous women and girls than amongst non-Indigenous women and girls;
Immigrant women are more vulnerable due to economic dependence, language barriers and a lack of knowledge about community resources;
Trans women are almost twice as likely as cisgender women to experience gender-based violence in their lifetime;
Women with physical and cognitive impairments experience violence two to three times more often than women living without impairments.
COVID-19 makes it harder to fight gender-based violence. Job loss, food insecurity or the fear of contracting the virus can trigger domestic violence. Social isolation and quarantines make it harder to access shelters or sexual assault centres. Those living in rural, remote and northern regions, immigrants and refugees and Indigenous women continue to be the most vulnerable populations, and the pandemic is isolating them more than ever before.
The heightened risks caused by the pandemic require immediate action. PSAC calls on all levels of government to:
- Provide increased emergency funding to women’s shelters and sexual assault support centres, and identify ways to make services accessible in the context of physical distancing measures;
- Work with health facilities and community organizations to quickly identify available local resources;
- Include essential services to address violence against women in their response plan for COVID-19.
PSAC’s work to prevent violence against women continues. Our union is proud to have negotiated 10 days of paid domestic violence leave in all new federal government collective agreements to ensure those facing domestic violence begin to get the support they need. We also continue to pressure governments to implement all recommendations from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report, and to eliminate barriers to accessing legal and counselling support for women experiencing violence.
PSAC is calling all members to participate in Canada’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, from November 25 to December 10, by taking action to eliminate its root causes.
The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.