Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. In Canada, nearly half of people aged 15 and older who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual report having experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse, compared to 30% of heterosexual people.
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which conclude on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
According to the UN Secretary-General in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
Earlier this year, I announced support for programming and initiatives to prevent gender-based violence, to better support survivors and to promote responsive legal and justice systems. For example, Budget 2018 proposed funding of $86 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, and $20 million per year ongoing, to expand the Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.
Through the strategy, we are working with partners such as PREVnet, the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network, on a program that will increase secondary school educators’ capacity to teach students about healthy relationships. We also continue to support survivors of family violence through our work with partners like the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children. The committee creates peer support and health promotion tools for people who identify as transgender, gender diverse or two-spirited and who have experienced intimate partner violence.
Gender-based violence has immediate and long-lasting impacts on the physical and mental health of survivors, and lasting consequences for families, communities and society as a whole. Research shows that high rates of violence against women correlate with outbreaks of conflict. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict.
We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence. Through collaborative efforts to foster positive relationships, build healthy families, change attitudes and promote gender equality, we can help. Please join me in raising awareness and sharing the message #MYActionsMatter to end gender-based violence. I look forward to seeing this conversation continue at the Women Deliver conference in June 2019 in Vancouver.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health