The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence began on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ends on Dec. 10, the International Human Rights Day. These 16 days are a national campaign to recognize the disproportionate violence faced by women and girls, as well as by other populations such as members of the LGBTQ2+ community, Indigenous peoples, people of colour and people with disabilities.
The theme for this year’s campaign is #MYActionsMatter. This theme serves to bring attention to the very real ways in which we as individuals can take action to reduce the violence that vulnerable populations experience. While it is absolutely imperative to consider the ways that we can challenge structures that facilitate gender-based violence, it is also important to think about what we can be doing on an individual level to effect change, and this is what this campaign is asking us to do.
In the year following the #MeToo movement, the importance of taking action within our personal circles has received more public attention than ever before. The #MYActionsMatter campaign challenges us to call out the people around us, question structures and patterns we take for granted, and speak up when we see injustices happening in our everyday lives. If we are committed to ending gender-based violence, we need to hold ourselves accountable to take action. The amount of violence that women and other vulnerable communities continue to face should not be normalized, but challenged.
This year for the 16 Days of Activism, SHARE and Mt. A are launching the Family Violence Recovery Project, which is sponsored by a grant from the Fergusson Foundation. This project aims to address the ways that family, sexual, and intimate partner violence continues to affect students. It will launch with a panel discussion featuring representatives from Mt. A and community members on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Crabtree Auditorium. The 16 Days of Activism will also include a candlelit vigil and memorial on Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which commemorates the Montreal Massacre. The vigil is at 5:30 p.m. in the library breezeway, and will be followed by a ceremony at the Owens Gallery at 6 p.m.
It is important to note that our actions matter beyond this campaign. Let it serve as a reminder that we have to continue to take action to end gender-based violence on both an individual and an institutional level because the current levels of violence – any level of violence – are unacceptable. Speaking out against sexual violence directly when we see it and writing to SHARE@mta.ca to let them know of incidents or concerns are actions that we can take every day.