National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

A photo of a red rose on the ground

Dec. 6 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, a tragic act of gender-based violence that left 14 young women dead on the campus of l’Ecole Polytechnique Montreal.

A photo of a red roseYork University’s Centre for Human Rights will commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against women on Dec. 4, from 11:30am to 12:30pm, at the Underground Restaurant, Student Centre, Keele campus.

This day will provide the York community with a platform to have continued discussions about gender-based violence.

What is gender-based violence?

The European Institute for Gender Equality defines gender-based violence (GBV) as a breach of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality amongst genders, non-discrimination, and physical and mental integrity. Gender-based violence can take many forms, including, but not limited to:

  • physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other practices;
  • physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking of women and forced prostitution; and
  • physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the state, wherever it occurs.

Gender-based violence and the Ontario Human Rights Code

In the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is defined as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” In some cases, one incident could be serious enough to be sexual harassment.

Gender-based harassment is one type of sexual harassment. As Elizabeth J. Meyer writes in her article “Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools: Understanding Teachers’ (Non) Interventions” in the November 2008 journal Gender and Education, gender-based harassment is “any behaviour that polices and reinforces traditional heterosexual gender norms.” It is often used to get people to follow traditional sex stereotypes (dominant males, subservient females). It is also used as a bullying tactic, often between members of the same sex.

Sexual harassment is against the law.

Gender-based violence and intersectionality

Though any person can be a survivor or perpetrator of gender-based violence, statistics have shown that there are communities/groups of people who are more vulnerable to GBV, including:

  • youth/young women aged 15 to 24 years;
  • Aboriginal and racialized women;
  • seniors; and
  • persons with disabilities.

Factors such as the system of racism and poverty must be included when addressing gender-based violence.

For more information, read the following material:

York’s President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri released a video message recognizing the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.