The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, today issued the following statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:
“Gender-based violence (GBV) continues to have devastating impacts on individuals, families and communities across the country and around the world. It is a violation of human rights and an unacceptable barrier to gender equality. For decades, women and allies have been calling for real action and seeing too little progress.
“COVID-19 has thrown this issue into even sharper focus and underscored the urgency of addressing gender-based violence. The pandemic has impacted us all, and for those facing violence, the impacts have been severe. As we put in place important public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus, Canadians were told to stay home and self-isolate– but home is not a safe place for those who experience domestic or family violence. Because of this, the COVID-19 pandemic created even more dangerous situations for those trapped at home with their abusers.
“To ensure that no one was left without a place to turn, we provided $100 million in emergency funding to women’s shelters, sexual assault centres and other organizations providing services to those experiencing violence. Over 1000 organisations across the country have received funding to date.
“Even before the pandemic, one woman in Canada was killed by her partner every six days. Half of Canadian women over the age of 16 have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence. On any given night an average of 5000 women and children sleep in shelters because of violence at home. Indigenous women, newcomer women, women with disabilities, LGBTQ2 individuals and women living in remote and rural areas are at an even greater risk of violence.
“These tragedies have been going on long enough. Canadians rightly expect their leaders to take action and are tired of waiting. We have heard you and are taking concrete steps. To ensure that anyone who experiences violence has access to the supports and services they need, we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories on a coordinated national plan to address and prevent gender-based violence. Where someone lives cannot and will not dictate their access to critical and life-saving services.
“To truly address this deep-rooted issue, we must better understand its effects, and how and why it takes place. That’s why we created a federal centre of expertise and have invested in collecting more and better data to ensure our actions have an impact where it is needed most. So that those impacted by GBV are better served by our justice system, we have introduced reforms to both strengthen GBV laws and ensure those who seek justice are treated with dignity and respect.
“This year, we will mark the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence differently but with no less importance. We will not be gathering for vigils, we cannot meet in large groups to discuss the next actions to take. But that does not mean we will be silent. On the contrary, now is the time to be louder than ever.
“Taking action against gender-based violence is an integral part of Canada’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Women’s safety must be the foundation on which all progress is built.
“There can be no recovery unless women are safe, working and their loved ones are cared for. Together, we can end gender-based violence in all forms. This is the Canada we all deserve: where everyone is free from violence, harassment, and intimidation.”