Every December 6th, we pause to reflect on the horrific event at the École Polytechnique de Montréal on December 6, 1989, when fourteen women were brutally murdered simply because they were women. We also pause to reflect on the violence faced by missing and murdered Indigenous women, women of colour and trans-women and all forms of violence against women that continue to occur in our communities.
Pausing to reflect is important, but we must also commit to ending all gender-based violence.
In 2020, many women’s shelters and helplines have reported an increase in calls for help during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding to the strain on existing resources. In Nova Scotia, we saw a misogynistic mass murder of 22 people that began with domestic violence.
To combat violence against women, we must continue to push provincial and federal governments to provide meaningful actions. These include consistent funding for women’s advocacy groups and women’s shelters; workplace leave legislation; financial supports for victims of gender-based violence including intimate partner violence; expanded education and training to recognize and understand the signs violence and gender discrimination; and funding for appropriate counselling supports.
We also recognize the underlying societal issues that impact the prevalence of gender-based violence. The lack of affordable housing, racism, transphobia, poverty, low pay along with often precarious employment and lack of affordable childcare are some of the root causes to gender inequity. We, as a labour movement, have an important role to play at the bargaining table and in pushing governments to address these issues.
This December 6th we remember all who have experienced gender-based violence, we mourn those who have died, and we recommit to the struggle of ending gender-based violence in all of its forms.