"Continued pressure for funding by Canadian Network of Shelters and Transition Houses (NWSTH) and labour unions has seen results. We must keep this momentum going into the future." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (25 Nov. 2016) — November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The date was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the four Mirabal sisters who were political activists from the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters were brutally assassinated in 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship. Women's activists have marked this date as a day against violence since 1981.
Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic. It is a consequence of persisting inequality and persistent discrimination against women and girls. On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, organizations around the world are highlighting the numerous issues that result from violence against women.
United Nations highlights the need for funding to fight violence
Beyond the pain and suffering to women and girls, violence against women has a high economic cost. It is estimated that the cost of intimate-partner violence accounted for 5.2 per cent of the global economy. This cost is made up of medical and judicial costs as well as lost income and productivity. Although globally, one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime, funding for efforts to end violence against women remains shockingly low.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women also launches the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, which continues until December 10, Human Rights Day. This year, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign Orange the World is a call for action to amplify and address the serious shortfall in global funding to end violence against women.
In her statement for International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Executive Director stressed, “We know that even relatively small-scale investments that are timely and well targeted can bring enormous benefits to women and girls and to their wider communities.”
Public Services International highlights issues of violence against health care workers
In its statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Public Services International (PSI) highlights the fact that public service workers are at the forefront of conflict and emergency situations around the world, assisting women suffering from domestic violence, helping victims of violence on the street and in war torn regions of the world. Sadly they can sometimes be victims of violence also.
Health care workers on the front-lines are often the targets for violence. Given that women are often considered second class citizens, and the majority of health care workers are women, puts their lives at risk in the workplace. Paramedics and nurses are the two groups that most often face violence in the workplace.
The PSI statement concludes, “The protection and respect of health workers in conflict zones and in emergency situations is key to ensure the safety, human rights and lives of all.
In October 2016, the International Labour Organization Experts Group Meeting on Violence against Women and Men at Work, adopted text that will put forth an international standard to tackle violence against women and men in the world of work. The group agreed that gender-based violence is a fundamental issue.
Here in Canada
Here in Canada violence against women and girls continues to be a major issue with very tragic consequences. Approximately every six days, a Canadian woman is killed at the hands of her intimate partner. It is estimated that the financial cost of dealing with the aftermath of spousal violence alone is $7.4 billion.
Violence against Indigenous women and girls is at a higher rate—Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women. The number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, according to the RCMP, was 1,181 between 1980 and 2012. However, it is believed that the actual number is much higher — closer to 4,000.
Shelters and transition houses in Canada on any given night provide shelter to 3,491 women and their 2,724 children. Due to austerity measures by all levels of government in the last number of years, increasingly staff at these shelters and transition houses are spending up to 40 per cent of their time fundraising.
Issues of violence against health care workers is increasing in Canada. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and its Components have been fighting for immediate measures to be taken to protect their members working in the health care field wherein the majority of staff are female.
NUPGE joins with people around the world in recognizing the need to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
NUPGE encourages all Canadians to
- Work to raise awareness that gender-based violence is a human rights issue;
- Lobby at all levels of government to ensure that sufficient funding is provided to organizations assisting women who have been victims of violence, including shelters and transition houses;
- Place pressure on the federal government to expedite the process of developing a national action plan to end violence against women and girls;
- Raise awareness that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls must include input by families and Indigenous women’s organizations.
Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer said, "The recent announcement that Status of Women Canada is providing a grant of $1,450,000 to the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transition Houses (CNWSTH) is a positive step forward. The funding will go to a 3-year project that will examine the multiple roles that shelters play in protecting and supporting women and children escaping violence. Continued pressure for funding by CNWSTH and labour unions has seen results. We must keep this momentum going into the future."
NUPGE has been an active supporter of the CNWSTH since its conception.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE