The UN General Assembly officially designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). The UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative was launched by UN Women as a multi-year effort calling on governments, organizations and communities worldwide to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

“The global community needs to hear the voices and experiences of women and girls and take into account their needs, especially survivors and those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”
António Guterres, UN Secretary General

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today and remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. One in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, mostly by an intimate partner. VAWG is a form of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed VAWG as a global emergency requiring urgent action at all levels, in all spaces and by all people. Emerging data shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19. The social and economic fallout from the pandemic is disproportionately pushing women and girls into poverty, and the risk of violence against them is rising. This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it and prioritize addressing violence against women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

November 25 also marks the launch of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence that conclude on December 10, 2021, the World Human Rights Day. The 16 Days are an opportunity for partners around the world to speak up against gender-based violence and to renew commitments to ending violence against women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, plus), and gender diverse individuals.

In Canada, the rate of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is staggering. The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) revealed persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations against Indigenous women and girls as the root cause of abuses leading to MMIWG. Canada also observes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, remembering the women who were murdered during the tragic mass shooting at Polytechnique Montréal on December 6, 1989.

The Waterloo Region District School Board recognizes the rights of staff, students, caregivers and community members to equitable treatment without discrimination based upon gender identity and gender expression. The WRDSB’s Human Rights and Violence in the Workplace policies seek to establish an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. The Board’s Administrative Procedure for the Accommodation of Persons Who Identify as Transgender supports a commitment to the values of freedom from GBV and discriminatory behaviors based on gender identity and gender expression.

The WRDSB’s Human Rights Incident Reporting Form is available to any member of the Board community seeking support on an issue of concern or complaint that is believed to go against the Board’s commitment to the elimination of any form of discrimination, including GBV.

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