16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls) to December 10 (Human Rights Day). Within the 16 Days, falls December 6th Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Activism can take many forms. You may not identify with the term activist or feel that activism is how you want to create change, but that is because we don’t see the various ways that we all can be, and perhaps have been, activists. This can range from having important conversations with family members, supporting the work of others, writing music or creating art with powerful messages, taking on leadership roles in our communities or workplaces, participating in letter writing campaigns to attending protests. All forms of activism are significant for change and utilize our diverse skills and views to highlight the importance of action. WHSBG encourages the community to think about how they can create change towards the elimination of GBV and work together to best support the safety and well-being of ourselves and our communities. Sharing the ways in which you or your networks take action encourages others to see the possibilities.
Creating change isn’t always easy. Holding space for tough conversations takes time, empathy and compassion. Being engaged in the prevention of gender-based violence requires ongoing learning, self-reflection, awareness of power and privilege, understanding and commitment to accountability and significant self-care. However difficult the work may seem, the benefit of knowing you were a safe person for someone to come to, that you made someone feel heard and validated, knowing that others have learned alongside you and continued to create a ripple effect of change is a priceless benefit and reward to your action.
When reflecting on personal efforts to raise awareness and prevent gender-based violence, a community member shared this testimonial.
“As the child of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and having grown up in a home impacted by violence, abuse and addiction, I knew there was a problem and as I worked through my personal healing with the support of counselling, journaling and self-care, I wanted to give back. I started by attending events and posting about them on line, following social media accounts and sharing important information, volunteering my time, making donations and supporting agencies that were helping people like my mom and me. I started because I wished my mom could have had the help, and because I did not want my little sister to live in a world where women were abused and killed by people who said they loved you.
Over the years dozens of friends, family and strangers trusted me and shared their stories. I was able to listen, validate and connect them with agencies that could help. I realized quickly how many never told anyone, and how many were never believed even if they did. I did not realize that even though I personally was not equipped to heal them, that because I believed them and showed them empathy and understanding, they were able to begin their own healing journey and that filled my heart with joy. I did make a difference.”