16 Days of Activism Campaign Aims to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence

Red Dresses hang on a tree branch

Vancouver Island University organizations are raising awareness about gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism, which includes the Red Dress Project hosted by VIUSU that aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Vancouver Island University Photo

November 20, 2020 - 1:00pm

Vancouver Island University organizations spreading awareness to help create a future free from gender-based violence.

Orange the world – it’s the message being spread during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

The campaign begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and runs until December 10, World Human Rights Day. Orange symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence, and the international campaign aims to eliminate violence that is committed against someone based on their gender, gender expression or perceived gender. This year’s campaign theme is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect.

The Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (VIUFA) Status of Women Committee is uniting with the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Nanaimo to help spread the message to residents of Vancouver Island. The Vancouver Island University Students’ Union (VIUSU) is also hosting events throughout the campaign to raise awareness.

VIUFA and CFUW Nanaimo are partnering on building lighting events. Building 330 at VIU’s Nanaimo campus and the Nanaimo Bastion will be illuminated with orange lighting throughout the 16 Days. Both locations will also have banners with the message: Unite to End Violence Against Women.

VIUFA and CFUW Nanaimo are asking women and allies to post videos expressing their support for the international campaign on their social media channels. VIUFA is also posting videos throughout the campaign and VIUTube links will be available starting November 25 on the VIUFA and the CFUW Nanaimowebsites and the VIUFA Status of Women Facebook page. The organizations are also inviting people to submit videos for inclusion on the websites. Instructions are available in VIUFA’s media release.

Since the beginning of the pandemic violence against women and girls, especially domestic violence, has intensified according to the United Nations. The UN has called this The Shadow Pandemic.

“The public health messaging urging us to stay home can be a terrifying prospect for people who are experiencing intimate partner violence. Women and gender minorities, in particular, may feel they have fewer options and less mobility in this context,” says Melissa Stephens, VIUFA Chair for the Status of Women Committee, adding that, “frontline organizations assisting women and gender minorities are shifting their outreach and care strategies to support new health guidelines. I think this leads to an opportunity for all of us to reimagine our support systems and what we can do to support women and gender minorities.” 

Suzanne Relick, a CFUW Nanaimo advocacy committee member, says victims of domestic violence are often children and teens who attend our schools.

“Living in fear for themselves and other family members can affect students in many ways, such as inability to focus, disruptive behaviour, social withdrawal and poor academic performance,” she says.

Karen Skarpnes, President of CFUW Nanaimo, says the pandemic has also exacerbated the issue of access to education for women and girls around the world. 

“Globally there’s a huge challenge for many people to continue their education, especially women and girls, and there is a big divide between who has tech access and who can access distance learning,” she says. “If a girl has her schooling interrupted it is less likely that she will resume her studies. This leaves some girls with fewer life choices and exposes them to greater vulnerability to violence in their personal relationships.” 

In solidarity of the campaign, the City of Nanaimo, has officially endorsed a proclamation submitted by CFUW, calling for people to unite to end violence against women. In part, the proclamation states that “in Canada, violence against women is disproportionally experienced by Indigenous women.” 

VIUSU hosted events include:

  • The Red Dress Project, November 25 to December 10. VIUSU members will hang red dresses along the hill on Fourth Street and Wakesiah Avenue in front of the Trades Discovery Centre. The project aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and raise awareness about the issue. Donations of red dresses are being accepted until Nov. 25 at the VIUSU Office, located in Building 193. Email campuslife@viusu.ca to arrange pick up if you can’t drop your donation off.
  • Virtual Stitch n Bitch, November 30, 7-8 pm. Open to all VIU community members.  People are invited to bring their craft project and a cozy beverage and join the zoom session for a casual conversation. Register for event on the VIUSU app.
  • Feminists: What Were They Thinking? Netflix Party, December 2, 7-8:30 pm. Open to all VIU community members. The film revisits 1970s photos of women that captured the feminist awakening and explores those women’s lives and examines the continued need for change. Register for event on the VIUSU app.
  • Virtual Vigil for National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, December 6, 5-5:40 pm. This year VIUSU can’t host an in-person vigil to honour the women who lost their lives in the 1989 Montreal massacre at École Polytechnique and is encouraging everyone to attend the virtual vigil hosted by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The vigil is open to everyone and people can register at psacbc.com. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.0373 l E: Rachel.Stern@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews


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