It’s Not Just: National campaign to raise youth awareness about gender-based violence launches

President Lenton and Minister Ien at the memorial mural Featured image for YFile story

On Thursday, Dec. 1 at York University, the federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien, launched “It’s Not Just,” a national campaign to raise youth awareness about gender-based violence. As part of the launch, the minister visited York University and met with the president and students.

It’s not just locker room talk. It’s not just a bad day. It’s not just flirting. Gender-based violence is a serious issue that affects everyone in Canada, especially young women, girls, and transgender and gender diverse people. When someone faces violence because of their gender, gender expression, or perceived gender identity, it is a violation of their human rights.

“Young Canadians are at a higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence, even more so if they are young women or girls (under 25); black or racialized women; newcomer women to Canada; women with disabilities; LGB+ people and people of other sexual orientations than heterosexual; transgender or gender diverse people; women living in Northern, rural or remote communities; Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people,” said Ien. “’It’s Not Just’ empowers youth to dismantle violent systems and support survivors of this violence. By recognizing and refusing to dismiss gender-based violence, we will work together to end gender-based violence and make Canada safer for everyone.”

Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien

“It’s Not Just” highlights how some forms of gender-based violence are diminished. The campaign seeks to help youth understand that gender-based violence is more than just physical and sexual violence: Emotional, financial, and cyber violence are forms of gender-based violence that can be just as harmful and have lasting psychological impacts. The campaign also highlights how some groups, including Black and racialized women, women with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ+ people, and newcomer women to Canada, are at higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence. “It’s Not Just” aims to increase awareness of gender-based violence, build knowledge, and ultimately shift beliefs and actions to disrupt the cycle of violence too many Canadians experience daily.

Ien was joined by York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and several students for a private meeting to discuss how gender-based violence is impacting youth in Canada.

”We are pleased to join the Honourable Minister Ien at York University to announce the  ‘It’s Not Just’ youth campaign. Gender-based and sexual violence continue to be prevalent in our society, and campaigns like ‘It’s Not Just’ play an important educative role aimed at prevention,” said Lenton. ”Advancing social justice and equity is embedded in the fabric of our institution and is demonstrated through our commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  At York, we are committed to ending gender-based violence 365 days a year, through our advocacy, teaching and learning, research and support services.” 

York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien engage in a private discussion with students
York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien engage in a private discussion with students

The minister’s visit to York preceded the University’s annual memorial ceremony on Dec. 6 to honour the 14 women who were murdered on the same date 33 years ago at École Polytechnique in Montreal. The day, which is known as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the larger international campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, offer opportunities to reflect on the impact of gender-based violence. York University’s events coincide with the theme of Ending Femicide, which includes certain groups of women who are more vulnerable – women and girls who are racialized, have a disability, are immigrants and refugees, queer, trans and/or low income. The “It’s Not Just” campaign, the Dec. 6 memorial and events provide opportunities for the University community to reflect on how violence against women and girls continues to plague society and what individual actions can be taken to end gender-based violence.

The “It’s Not Just” campaign is a collaboration with partner organizations, front-line service providers, experts, academics, advocates and youth from various backgrounds. Women and Gender Equality Canada is partnering with YWCA Canada, Wisdom2Action, DAWN Canada, FOXY/SMASH, Platform, White Ribbon Canada, The Centre for Sexuality, GRIS Montreal, Interval House of Hamilton, the Circle Education, and Queer Yukon Society to reach and capture the insights of youth, specifically those from marginalized and underrepresented communities.

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