November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the beginning of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. This is an important time to reflect on our individual and collective responsibility to end all forms of gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence is defined as any form of abuse, assault or harassment inflicted on someone because of their gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender. It is not limited to physical violence, and can include words, actions, and attempts to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten, or harm.
During the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence leading up to International Human Rights Day, we also commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in which 14 young women had their lives cruelly taken at École Polytechnique.
Every single one of us knows someone who has been a victim of gender-based violence. It is one of the most prevalent types of crime in this country, with many cases going unreported each day. As activists, allies, family members and friends of women who are experiencing this in our communities daily, we must do everything in our power to stop this violence.
We must evaluate our provincial laws to ensure that they prioritize women’s empowerment, instead of causing further harm. We must fight for inclusive policies in our workplaces and communities to tackle the root causes of gender-based violence, and we must create a culture in which women feel safe.
Today and every day, OPSEU/SEFPO proudly stands in solidarity with all women in the fight against gender-based violence.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU/SEFPO
Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO Provincial Women’s Committee