December 6th 2006 - Violence Against Women Affects All Canadians: Get informed, demand support and take action!

Wednesday, December 14 2011

National Action Committee on the Status of Women Media Statement

On this day in 1989, a man rejected from the engineering program at the École Polytechnique in Montréal, Québec, entered a second floor class room where he systematically divided the women from the men. Declaring his hatred for feminists, he opened fire and brutally murdered fourteen women before he took his own life.

This may have happened 17 years ago but this kind of violence is far from over. It is not just a random act in a seemingly just society, but rather one expression in a whole system of violence against women. Poverty, racism, ageism, ablism, lack of child care, pay in-equity, access to justice, funding cuts, to name but a few, are also very real and devastating forms of violence. That is not to make light of the innumerable acts of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, but to highlight the intricate contexts in which violence is experienced and perpetuated. Today, it is important to remember the 14 women who lost their lives, as well as all the women, who have been and continue to be targets and survivors of violence. Furthermore, it is critical to work to eradicate systemic violence in all its forms.

Lépine believed that women stole his rightful place in the classroom and that is a particularly poignant claim given our current government’s stance on women’s equality. The federal government’s decision to remove the term equality from the Status of Women Canada’s mandate and to change the funding guidelines to the Women’s Program will have a devastating impact on the substantive equality rights of women in Canada. If our government does not encourage, support and respect the struggles and achievements of women, how can we expect individuals in our communities to do so?

Eradicating systemic violence is the responsibility of all Canadians. In light of the devastating funding cuts made by the Harper government, the agencies and organizations that work to eliminate violence and to support the women who experience it, will be systematically weakened and in many cases forced to shut their doors. Statistics Canada reported 96,359 women and dependent children found refuge at women’s shelters across the country in 1999-2000. According to Statistics Canada, that number represents less than 10% of the estimated need.

Tax payer dollars are meant to enrich the livelihood of all citizens and not just an elite few. It is critical that this government deposit our tax dollars back into the issues that affect us all and support the struggle to end violence against women.

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