December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. On this day we remember and mourn the loss of 14 women, murdered at Montréal's École Polytechnique, murdered because they were women.
We remember the 14 lives lost. And there are other numbers to remember:
- Every minute of every day, a woman or child is being sexually assaulted in Canada
- Homicide is the Number 1 killer of women in the workplace
- More than 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women
- Women with disabilities are 1.5 to 10 times as likely to be abused as non-disabled women, depending on whether they live in the community or in institutions.
- Each week, 1 to 2 women are murdered by a current or former partner
- Up to 360,000 children in Canada are exposed to domestic violence every year
- Physical and sexual abuse costs Canada over $4 billion each year
It is easy to feel hopeless in the face of such stark statistics. However, even the smallest actions by an individual in his or her workplace can make a difference. December 6 is the day when we make the lives of these women – of all women and children touched by violence - count.
We make a difference when we speak out against bullying, harassment and discrimination of any kind.
We make a difference when unions raise the issue of violence at the bargaining table, or advocate for effective workplace violence legislation.
We make a difference when we raise strong, compassionate children.
We make a difference when we fight for women's equality and economic security.
Each year, the Canadian Labour Congress challenges workers to Make Women's Lives Count by taking action in memory of the 14 women murdered on December 6.
The Coalition for Gun Control is also speaking out, drawing attention to the shameful way the Conservative government has begun dismantling Canada's gun control laws piece by piece over the past year, including scrapping the long gun registry. When women are killed by their spouse using a gun, it is a long gun in 72% of cases. Since 1991, when controls on all firearms were first introduced, spousal homicides with rifles and shotguns decreased by 69%. A survey in Alberta's shelters in 2010 found 37% of women reported they had been threatened with a gun.
Despite the demonstrated effectiveness of gun control legislation, the Harper government is quietly making many significant changes in the belief that Canadians won't notice and opposition and provincial politicians, with the exception of Quebec, do not care or have the power to stop them. Visit the Coalition for Gun Control's website to see how you can take action on this issue.
Other community grouups also come together at December 6 to speak out against violence against women. The YWCA's Rose Campaign, for example, encourages Canadians to send a message to their MPs, to speak out against negative media portrayals of women and girls, promote women's economic and political equality, and to speak up against violence in their communities.