Twenty-two years ago 14 women were killed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. Across the country today, people are remembering the women we lost that day and why. We remember that a man walked into a classroom and opened fire; his only motivation, his only target, was women.
Violence against women isn’t gone, and until it is, we must draw attention to the problem and its solutions. Statistics Canada reports that one out of four women in shelters today in Canada are there to escape abuse, that only 36 percent of women who suffer spousal abuse go to the authorities, and that every year, on average, 178 women are killed, almost a quarter of these are a result of spousal violence.
December 6th continues to bear significance not only in Canada, but across the globe.
Physical violence against women is alarming. It’s an all too frequent occurrence right here at home and with as much brutality as ever. But, sexual violence and violence against women plagues the globe with its brutal consequences. At a talk given by Stephen Lewis and Michele Landsberg last month, Lewis talked about how if we could somehow stop violence against women, we could almost wipe out the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
However, it’s not the only form of violence that takes place. Consider the whole experience of women: from equal access to opportunities to how women experience racism. Attitudes towards women are what grow and foster these criminal acts. They are the seeds. As with any act of aggression and intolerance against any group, there is work to be done in educating, in speaking out, in creating awareness, and in advocating equality for all.
It’s crucial that we don’t forget December 6th so we can progress and expand our analysis of women’s experience in Canada today, and include other groups like racialized Canadians and trans Canadians that also experience oppression and lack of access to opportunities and the chance to live a healthy and full life.
At Wellesley Institute, we consider how women’s experience impacts their health, through access to stable employment, adequate housing, and timely health care.
More from Wellesley Institute:
Income gaps for women reduce equity
Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support
Older women’s perceptions of and responses to abuse and neglect in the post-migration context
Contradictions: Health Equity and Women’s Health Services in Toronto
Towards a Social Assistance System that Enables Health and Health Equity
Some useful links for today:
The White Ribbon Campaign – engaging men and boys to reduce and prevent gender-based violence
Young feminists speak out against violence against young women and trans youth at Shameless magazine
Rabble.ca remembers Ecole Polytechnique.