Written by Bianca Baldo
We have all heard the alarming findings that global gender-based violence statistics are on the rise. Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic began, UN Women estimates that 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Instances of domestic violence helpline calls and domestic and family violence reports have risen, given the circumstances of lockdowns, curfews, and lack of access to support services and community resources. The burden of COVID-19 is being disproportionately faced by members of the 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous, racialized, ethnic minority, disabilities, and rural communities in Canada.
In response to this Shadow Pandemic, defined as gender-based violence resulting from the current Pandemic, this year’s 16 days of activism is more important than ever. Its theme is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!, highlighting how the burden of gender inequality, economic hardship, and social isolation are being carried by the most marginalized groups of women and members of the 2SLSGBTQ+ communities. To support this campaign, our team has decided to share a few ways for you to contribute towards a world that breaks through fear, silence, and isolation by sharing information and by supporting virtual initiatives against gender-based violence.
Recognize the signal for help and offer support silently. With the current Pandemic and its isolation protocols, survivors of gender-based violence can find it hard to leave the house and seek help against their aggressors. The Canadian Women Foundation designed the “Signal for Help” campaign, which developed a simple one-handed sign someone can use on a video call if they fear or are being subjected to violence. The idea is to provide the person with a way to silently show they need help and want someone to safely check in with them.
Know your local resources. In many situations, survivors of violence feel like there are few ways out of an abusive situation. Friends and family often feel ill-equipped to offer the necessary support. Knowing the services available in your region can go a long way to giving people safer options for themselves and their children. The government of Canada website offers a list of family violence resources and services divided by provinces that can allow people to make the first steps towards a life without violence. This will also allow you to get to know your local services and possibly offer a much-needed donation to a worthy cause.
Offer your support through shopping. The opportunity to support organizations that work against gender-based violence has never been so easy. Consider buying your friends and families amazing gifts that also support programs and services that work against gender-based violence for this holiday season. As a few examples, the Buy with pride! from the Canadian Women’s foundation; Gift Catalog from The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC); Shop to make equality real from Equality Now; or Pledge Now to the Moose Hide Campaign are all opportunities to help.
Talk about gender-based violence. More than ever, there are opportunities to discuss gender-based violence at your work, with your friends and families to break isolation and challenge social stigmas and taboos associated with violence. To learn more about the available resources, the Learning Network has developed an information hub that shares organizations’ work across Canada and key international research on Gender-Based Violence and the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Donate to causes you believe in. CanadaHelps.org is making it easy to donate to important causes by bringing together under the same webpage all the information you need to make a donation this year. Please check out their Donate to Violence and Abuse Charities page to find out more.
This year, I have decided to support the Clan Mothers Healing Village to acknowledge the impacts of colonialism, recognize the resilience of First Nation, Metis, and Inuit cultures, and highlight the disproportionate levels of violence against Indigenous women. They are committed to creating a sustainable Healing Village governed by an Indigenous council, which provides mid to long-term support to women who have been victims of multi-generational systemic trauma, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
We can all make a change; I hope that this information helps you decide how you want to contribute towards a world without gender-based violence.