What can and should we be doing as library workers, to end violence against women? We are a female dominated work-force; we all have sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, cousins and friends who have been victims of homicide. December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. They died because they were women.
As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shocked the nation, December 6 represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society. It is also an opportunity to consider the women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. And finally, it is a day on which communities can consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. (Status of Women).
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women falls in the middle of the worldwide 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, which runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Violence against women and girls remains a serious problem in Canada, from overt acts of hatred, such as the Montréal Massacre, to culturally based offences and everyday acts of coercion, such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse.
* Women and girls are more likely to experience certain types of serious violence and assault:
- on average, 178 females were killed every year between 1994 and 2008;
- in 2008, there were 146 female victims of homicide in Canada. Of these, 45 were victims of spousal homicide; and
- young women are particularly vulnerable. Between 1997 and 2006, young women (aged 15 to 24) were killed at a rate nearly three times higher than for all female victims of spousal homicide. During the same period, the rate of sexual assault for girls (under age 18) by family members was four times higher than for boys.
* Some groups of women in Canada are particularly vulnerable to violence:
- the spousal homicide rate for Aboriginal women is more than eight times that for non-Aboriginal women;
- immigrant women may be more vulnerable to family violence due to, among other things, economic dependence, language barriers, and lack of access to resources; and
- senior women are twice as likely as senior men to be victims of violent crime perpetrated by a family member.
CUPE supports women’s groups in variety of ways, across the country. See http://cupe.ca/violence/takes-action-violence-women-marks
What do you think CUPE 391 can do to end this ugliness? How do you propose we contribute to and support our sisters? We could have displays in the library today. Our collections can better support the discussion. We can demand that federal representatives properly fund the Status of Women and the recommendations of their reports. We can vote for people with social housing as part of their platform. We can, as library workers, list all the groups associated with supporting women receive our volunteer hours and donations. There are many ideas. Please send them and we will put on the the next General Meeting’s agenda. In the meantime, there is a candlelight vigil in memory of all women who experienced violence and abuse at City Hall between 5.30 and 6.30 on December 10th. Meet some people with ideas on how to change the world we live in and make it a better place.