Gender-based violence (GBV) has been on the rise, particularly since the start of the pandemic.
Every 48 hours a woman or girl is killed, primarily by men, in Canada. Leading into the 16 Days of Activism to Against Gender-based Violence, Women United hosted their 4th annual Disruptive Dialogue to shine a light on this issue and empower attendees to learn more, advocate, and take action in their communities.
Hosted by Melissa Somers, Director of Women United, our panel included: Candice Shaw from the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Kirsten Mercer from Goldblatt Partners LLP, City Councillor Ariel Troster, and United Way East Ontario’s Jade Nauman.
Our panelists delved into key recommendations arising from last year’s provincial inquest into the deaths of Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton, and Anastasia Kuzyk in Renfrew County. Mercer, a litigator who worked closely on these calls to action, underscored the importance of formally acknowledging intimate partner violence (IPV) as an epidemic (Recommendation #1), and its critical role in making progress: “If you don’t take that first step, no matter how many more steps you take you’re not going to get where you need to go. And that’s why it’s critically important to start our work framed around an understanding of GBV and IPV as a manifestation of a social problem that can only be fixed through changes in society.”
United Way East Ontario and Women United are committed to tackling the challenges that enable intimate partner violence and femicide, especially in rural communities. Nauman highlighted the need for proactive prevention measures alongside crisis response.
Thank you to the organizations that hosted viewing experiences, bringing this conversation beyond the screen.
To tackle intimate partner violence, we also need to address the conditions that enable it to continue.
Issues like financial instability, housing insecurity, and mental health are connected. Councillor Troster spoke about how her advocacy for affordable housing intersects with second-stage housing for survivors of GBV/IPV. “What we want is permanent, affordable housing for people coming out of shelters. You shouldn’t have to qualify for the dignity of a permanent home,” she said.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence are all about raising awareness and continuing the conversation.
Although we’ve made progress—70 municipalities in Ontario have named IPV an epidemic—there is still more work to do. We know local agencies turn away upwards of 300 women attempting to flee violence. Against these trying conditions, leaders and organizations in the IPV/GBV sector tirelessly work to pull women and gender-diverse people out of crisis. As part of this event, we shared a video honouring a few of these leaders who recently received United Way’s Community Builder of the Year award. Learn more about the recipients and how their frontline anti-violence work is saving lives.
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Watch the recording: Creating a safer future for women
This Disruptive Dialogue wouldn’t have been possible without Women United’s program sponsor, Accenture. We’re so grateful to have their ongoing support, allowing us to bring you these important conversations.