On October 19th, 2015, Canadians told the world they were ready for something different. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected on the promise of action on climate change, a valued place for women in government, and “real change” in our country.
Women’s rights must be at the heart of making this change real, and lasting. When we empower women and girls, we feed communities. When we invest in the women who are driving the global economy, we enable women to support their families and their cities. Oxfam believes in a world where the work of these women is recognized, honoured, and valued. A Cabinet that is at gender parity is a great start, but we can go further. We can recognize that women are often primary caregivers, and that this is work as well. A national childcare strategy boosts our economy by creating more equitable spaces for women to work.
We also need safe spaces for women. Globally:
- Of all the women who were murdered in 2012, it is estimated that at least half were killed by their intimate partner.
- More than 700 million women worldwide were married as children (below 18 years of age) and 250 million girls were married before 15.
- 75% of Canadian Indigenous girls under the age of 18 have been sexually abused and Indigenous women are nearly three times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Indigenous women.
What does Canada – and a world – that values women look like?
- When a woman reports sexual violence to the police, to friends, or in her community, she is no longer blamed for this violence. She is no longer questioned about what she was doing, what she was wearing, or who she was with.
- When Indigenous women disappear, when they are assaulted, or when they are murdered, there is a national outcry. We no longer allow our leaders to dismiss it with, “Later.” or, “Eventually.”
- Girls receive equal opportunity to education, and are valued as leaders in their communities and countries.
- Women have control and make decisions about their own bodies.
A National Action Plan on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls and an Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women are two excellent places for Prime Minister Trudeau to begin. However, the responsibility does not lie solely with our government. We end gender violence by saying, “No more.” We value women’s work by simply refusing to accept a gender wage gap anymore. We challenge norms that condone violence when we believe women as they share their stories about sexual violence, abuse, or exploitation.
We are ready for your real change, Prime Minister. In these 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls, tell Prime Minister Trudeau that you want to live in a world that values the contributions of women to our economy, our communities, and our country. Take action now, here, and let your voice be heard.