CFUW appeals to legislators, civil society, and individual citizens to mobilize, unite and act to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls

OTTAWA, 25 November 2014 – Today on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, CFUW joins with our International affiliate, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), in drawing attention to the ongoing, widespread and systemic culture of violence against women and girls in Canada and around the world.

Together, we call on governments to work with stakeholders, including, justice, health, education and social service sectors to develop, implement and enforce comprehensive and coordinated plans of action to end violence against women and girls.

Violence against women manifests itself in physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence. It occurs in our homes, workplaces, schools and in public places, and can affect women and girls of all ages and background. Trafficking, forced and early child marriage, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation and rape as a weapon of war, and non-state actor torture are all specific forms of violence that disproportionately affect women and girls around the world.

Not only does violence jeopardize the security and wellbeing of women and girls, it also has a large economic impact on survivors and Canada as a whole. Statistics Canada and others have estimated the cost of intimate partner violence and sexual violence at $7.4 and $1.9 billion respectively, including the costs of social services, healthcare, the justice system, and lost productivity.

“Over the last several weeks, Canadians have been reminded again and again that violence against women and sexual harassment are still persistent problems in this country. Even Parliament Hill and our public broadcaster’s offices are not immune”, said Doris Mae Oulton, President of CFUW. “These high profile cases have helped shine a light on the complexities of gender-based violence and have sparked important discussions. But discussions must also lead to action. On any given day in Canada, over 8200 women and children are living in emergency shelters and transition houses to escape violent partners. Annually over 400,000 women and girls report sexually assaults, yet an approximate 90% of assaults go unreported. Nearly 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing over the last 30 years. We cannot let this continue to happen.”

President of IFUW, Catherine Bell, stated that: “Up to 70% of women will suffer violence in their lifetimes. Often, alarmingly, it is intimate partners or family members that carry out the attacks with devastating effects. What is more worrying is the extremely low rate of complaint in cases of violence against women, where only 13 -14% of the most serious cases are reported to the police. Many such reports do not result in legal proceedings and conviction. Law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and social workers need to be properly trained in treating and protecting survivors of violence so that girls and women feel safe and empowered to come forward and share their stories.”

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. CFUW is the largest affiliate of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), the leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels.

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For more information, please contact: Tara Fischer, Advocacy Coordinator, advocacy@fcfdu.org, 613-234-8252 ext. 106.

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