IWD 2020: Addressing gender-based violence over generations | National Union of Public and General Employees

IWD 2020: Addressing gender-based violence over generations

As we celebrate International Women's Day (IWD), it is important to acknowledge that we still have much work to do. But today, we also take the time to celebrate the gains that have been made.

Ottawa (4 Mar. 2020) — On International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8, we reflect on the progress made, as well as the work that remains, on advancing gender equity.

This year, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) acknowledges the struggles to end gender-based violence and, in particular, domestic violence.

Looking across the generationsImage of the NUPGE poster on how domestic violence is a union issue.

The 2020 theme for IWD is “I Am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” because this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action provided a blueprint for advancing women’s rights. Ending violence against women and girls was a key pillar.

Progress on ending gender-based violence

A generation since the Declaration's signing, we celebrate the important research, advocacy, and collective action that has led to increased awareness of domestic violence (DV), which is also known as intimate partner violence (IPV).

We have also seen long-overdue progress in law and policy to support victims and survivors of domestic violence. Since the Beijing Conference, 2/3 of countries have enacted laws to stop domestic violence.

In Canada, job-protected DV leave now exists in most jurisdictions across the country. As a result of the collective struggles of the women’s rights, social justice, and labour movements, DV leave has become an important tool for supporting workers experiencing DV.  

Our work is far from over

Despite notable gains made, violence continues to impact countless women, girls, and gender-diverse people everyday in Canada and around the world. The rates of violence against those who are Indigenous, racialized, transgender, living with disabilities, and living in poverty are particularly staggering.

DV is a worker issue and it is a workplace issue, which means it's also a union issue. The Pan-Canadian Survey on Domestic Violence and the Workplace found that over 80% of workers who have experienced DV report that it negatively impacted their work.

Workplaces, co-workers, and unions can also be a source of support for those experiencing DV. Unions have an important role to play in not only supporting members, but also raising awareness, conducting research and educational materials, and advocating for broader social and policy change.

We must push forward

We must continue to build upon the gains made by the advocates of past generations and those working tirelessly today. In addition to ensuring there is paid DV leave in every jurisdiction across Canada, there are many other policy areas key to supporting victims and survivors of DV: access to affordable housing, adequately-funded shelters, transition houses, and other community-based supports, pay equity, and universal child care, to name a few.

It is important to acknowledge that we still have much work to do. But today, we also take the time to celebrate the gains that have been made.

We honour the efforts of advocates, researchers, frontline workers, and victims/survivors of violence today and in past generations who got us to where we are now. Let IWD inspire us to continue onward with the work that remains and reinvigorate our efforts to end gender-based violence for the generations that follow. 



The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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