Jim Turk at CAUT sent the following message around and asked that we circulate it:
On this year’s International Women’s Day, we celebrate the social, political and economic advances of women in Canada and around the world. But we also commit to continue challenging all forms of discrimination, exploitation, and violence against women.
Even though there have been tremendous gains since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, systemic forms of discrimination still leave women more susceptible to violence and exploitation.
Women are disproportionately the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. For example, women in Canada are 5 times more likely than men to be victims of sexual assaults and 97% of the perpetrators of such assaults are male (Statistics Canada, 2008). Incidences of violence are exacerbated by racism, transphobia, heterosexism, ableism, and income inequalities. Violence against women affects both the working conditions and the learning conditions of faculty, staff, and students on Canadian campuses.
Many systemic causes are linked to discrimination, exploitation, and violence against women, including:
- Lack of justice for missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Canada’s failure to properly address this problem has been admonished by the United Nations and various international human rights groups.
- Changes to labour and trade union laws are accelerating the casualization of labour and job insecurity – both on campuses and off-campus – making women more susceptible to harassment and workplace violence.
- A lack of a national child care plan disproportionately affects women and single mothers in particular.
- Endemic government cuts to women’s programs and aboriginal groups has silenced much of the advocacy and support initiatives, from the closure of status of women offices, to the termination of the court challenges program, and cuts to aboriginal women’s groups.
- Changes to the Criminal Code expanding mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately serve to further criminalize women who are aboriginal, low-income, and with mental health issues.
- The Canadian International Development Agency’s prior record in supporting international programs supporting women and children in developing countries has taken a back seat to financial support for the mining industry abroad – rife with allegations of violence against women and other human rights violations.
- The federal long gun registry – an essential component of preventing violence against women – was eliminated.
Change needs to happen in our communities, at our post-secondary institutions, and at provincial, national, and international levels. As such, CAUT encourages local academic staff associations to join in International Women’s Day activities on March 8th in their communities to address violence against women in Canada. Local academic staff associations are also encouraged to join in the call for: a national strategy to address a comprehensive plan to eradicate violence against women; a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women; and for governments to be held accountable for their progress in eliminating and preventing violence against women.