“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” These are the words inscribed on the portal of the Human Rights Monument located in downtown Ottawa which symbolizes Canadians’ commitment to live in peace in a society based on these rights.
So it is only fitting that the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) will shine a light on gender-based violence (GBV) just a few feet away from the monument when the Heritage Building at City Hall is illuminated in purple later this November to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign.
The 16 Days Campaign starts November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ends December 10, Human Rights Day. In Canada, December 6 is also observed as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Established by Parliament in 1991, it marks the anniversary of the 1989 murders of 14 women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal who were killed because of their gender. On this day, Canadians remember the victims and also reflect on the women, girls and LGBTQ2 individuals for whom gender-based violence continues to be a daily reality. It is an emotional, yet deeply meaningful, 16 days for all who have been affected in some capacity.
As per an old African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Togetherness is exactly the approach GRAN takes. As a non-partisan network of volunteers across Canada, they advocate at local, national and international levels for the human rights of grandmothers, children and youth of sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom live in extreme poverty.
Gender-based violence exists all over the world and is defined as violence committed against someone based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, cyber, emotional or economic. It can also include any word, action, or attempt to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten, or harm another person.
Worldwide, 35 per cent of all women have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Statistics Canada reports that 1 in 3 Canadian women have experienced sexual assault or psychological, emotional or physical abuse from males.
“People deserve respect, love and quality of life, no matter where they live,” says Pat Dolan, GRAN Ottawa Chapter volunteer. “Our work centres on drawing attention to human rights that are being violated or ignored and on increasing access to healthcare and education, economic security, social protection and freedom from violence.”
The good news is that we can all make a difference and help end violence against women and gender-based violence by emulating GRAN’s togetherness approach - by being an ally. Here’s how:
- Listen: be open to learning from the experiences of others
- Believe: support survivors and those affected by violence
- Speak out: add your voice to call out violence
- Intervene: find a safe way to help when you see acts of gender-based violence
- Women experiencing violence in our community and in need of transitional housing, shelter or support, can find help through Champlain Health.
- Anyone experiencing gender-based violence can find resources through Ottawa Public Health Violence Prevention
- Volunteer: give your time to organizations working to end violence
This November, let’s join together in support of the GRAN and the 16 Days Campaign, by:
- Attending the outdoor opening ceremony on November 25 at 5 p.m. where the Heritage Building at City Hall will be illuminated in purple;
- Visiting the purple-illuminated OTTAWA sign in the Byward Market’s York Street Plaza (November 25 - 30), taking your picture with the sign or large purple ribbons and bows, and sharing with @GRANAdvocates, Grandmother’s Advocacy Facebook or tagging #16DaysCampaign, #16days or #endGBV;
- Wearing a purple ribbon; and/or
- Getting involved and volunteering with GRAN.
At Hydro Ottawa, we’re proud to support GRAN by raising awareness for the 16 Days Campaign and the work they do to help end gender-based violence.
*Join us on social media December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, for coverage of the lighting ceremony.