This year we mark the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre with a resolve to continue to work tirelessly for the elimination of gender-based violence at home and abroad. We do this in the memory of the 14 students who were murdered 30 years ago at l’École Polytechnique de Montreal. They were targeted because they were women.
Thirty years later, gender-based violence, pervasive sexism, misogyny, and exclusion persists. A 2019 national study led by Women’s Shelters Canada found that one in five shelters have not had a funding increase in at least 10 years. It also identified gaps between urban and remote community support and reported that shelters had to turn away an increasing number of women.
In June, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls published its final report exposing how Indigenous women and girls have been discriminated against, harmed by and failed by the criminal justice system.
In Ontario over the past 30 years there have been more than 780 known femicides, the intentional murder of women and girls by men.
The gender-based violence crisis has been made worse by the elimination of rent control on new units and government cuts to child care, legal aid, victim services, and women’s shelters, placing women and girls at further risk in Ontario.
Women’s rights are strengthened when governments legislate measures that promote women’s social, and economic well-being. Women’s inequality can be reduced through affordable housing, pay equity, reproductive, sexual and gender rights, access to a living wage, free child care and access to legal representation.
A culture shift has begun, spurred by the courageous women who continue to come forward and challenge male violence through movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up.
We all have a role to play in reshaping a truly inclusive society in which human rights are realized for everyone. Join us and the entire OPSEU family to stand together and to work to put an end to violence against women.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida