Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 41: Justice (25-42)

Inside Canada’s National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

July 9, 2024

With the help of a new survey, a solutions-based org is building better services for survivors.

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Creating space to collaborate and expand the impact of people working in the gender-based violence sector is necessary and important, says JHC research director Angelica Quesada. Collage by John Humphrey Centre. Berries image by Roger Garcia, birds image by Carla Rae Taylor.

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The Tyee: One woman or girl is killed every two days in Canada for affirming independence over their bodies and lives. In 2023 alone, there were 187 victims of femicide, most of them killed by a man who was close to them.

This is not a new topic of conversation in Canada. For years, alarms have been sounding. The missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women report, community groups, domestic violence shelters, and other organizations that work to address all other forms of gender-based violence have been raising concerns over the increase of victims, the complexity of the cases, the exhaustion of staff, and the lack of resources and sense of urgency to respond to this rising issue that doesn’t only affect women and girls, but also gender-diverse populations.

In 2022, 491 gender-diverse people experienced a crime motivated by hate and 30 per cent of those sustained physical injuries due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Risk and vulnerability to violence increase significantly for people who are Indigenous, Black or racialized, living with disabilities, are newcomers to Canada, or who live in rural or remote areas. Often people who live at these intersections find it difficult or impossible to access the services needed, leading them to experience further violence, lack of support to move forward, and restricted access to justice.

Following a directive of the United Nations and the guidance of the Canadian organizations that work to respond to gender-based violence, the federal government issued a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence in 2023 and continues negotiations with provinces and territories on implementing it.

The plan aims to create movement around support for victims, survivors and their families; prevention; a responsive justice system; Indigenous-led approaches; and social infrastructure that enables environment. 

As part of the action plan, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and their partners launched a project aiming to identify strategies to address the massive pressure over those working in gender-based violence.

These strategies include providing widely supportive and accessible services by informing urgent and necessary policy and legislative changes, holding spaces for collaboration and dialogue, creating educational tools and resources, and informing changes for organizations working in solutions to gender-based violence.

All of these strategies will be informed by the experiences of clients, workers and leaders involved in finding solutions to gender-based violence. 

To ensure those needs are best met, the JHC invites clients and workers in gender-based violence to complete an online survey and share their stories via interviews and focus groups. These stories will inform how Canadians, as a collective community, can implement the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.

“It is no secret that the GBV [gender-based violence] sector faces a severe lack of resources,” says Angelica Quesada, director of research and adult education at JHC. “Workers in the GBV sector are burned out and don’t have enough resources to help the people that seek their services. 

“Funding, policy, legal changes and the creation of new ways of understanding and delivering these services have been identified by leaders in the sector as fundamental to this plan. We want to support movement around those needs.”

Organizations like JHC are responsible for seizing the opportunity created by the National Action Plan. It is only through collective and transformative action that the National Action Plan can keep grounded in the experiences of workers, victims and survivors of gender-based violence. 

“We want to put together and translate the findings into action… to achieve change and to create spaces to collaborate and expand the good work they do while creating spaces to reflect and transform their environments.”

If you are working in supporting those who have experienced gender-based violence, take the JHC online survey to share your knowledge and experience. [Tyee]

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