Tag Archives: human rights

Violence Against Women Concerns Us All

28 years ago, Canada was shaken by the violent mass murder of 14 young women at École Polytechnique, generating awareness on the ongoing social issue of gender-based violence and misogyny.

Today, we commemorate and honour the lives of everyone who has died from gender-based violence and the intersection of systemic discrimination such as homophobia, poverty, and racism, including discrimination against Indigenous Peoples. This day is also about asking why acts of violence against women are still happening in 2017.

Violence against women continues to be a major tragedy. There has been no significant reduction of the problem, as rates of sexual assaults continue to remain high. Both police-reported and self-reported data indicate that women represent the majority of victims of specific forms of violence such as sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence, including intimate partner homicide.

#METOO, the recent social media trend, saw many courageous women sharing their stories, shedding light on a widespread culture that promotes acts of violence against women, in particular, sexual harassment and assault. The prevalence of toxic attitudes and violent acts against women is deeply disturbing but not surprising. It calls for a long overdue reflection on the social and institutional structures that promote these acts, as well as on our own actions.

Too many continue to sanction sexist beliefs and attitudes that dehumanize women and paint them as weak and inferior. These beliefs impact women’s rights and the level of respect they are shown. Society’s view of women has normalized the behaviours and attitudes that promote gender-based violence. Behaviours can take the form of jokes about sexual harassment or rape, meeting the act of catcalling a woman on the street with laughter, or the reaction of insistence and a predatory attitude when a woman says “NO”.

Consider a joke about harassment or consent. Even when a person insists they meant nothing by it, it still promotes a culture of violence and discrimination that has serious and real impact on women. The problem is that joking about consent has become so commonplace, it reinforces the perception that disregarding consent is somehow socially acceptable.

Being aware of the collective impact of these attitudes, and discussing ways to address the situation, not only among women, but among all of us, is an honest first step toward transforming our surroundings and confronting the issue. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander. Acts of gender-based violence concern us all and must be challenged, especially by those who think they have the privilege to ignore them.

To create change, it is essential to recognize that the issue of violence against women knows no frontiers. It happens every day, in our country, in our city, and in our neighbourhood.

Because violence against women concerns everyone, let’s raise awareness and step up to reinforce acts of respect to everyone, but particularly to women and girls!

Article prepared by The Canadian Federation of University Women

CFUW Calls On Government to Put Human Health Before the Asbestos Industry


OTTAWA, June 16, 2011 – “It’s time to put human health ahead of the asbestos industry” was the message sent to Prime Minister Harper today. Brenda Wallace, National President of the Canadian Federation of University Women, called on PM Harper to stop preventing the UN Rotterdam Convention from adding chrysotile asbestos to its list of hazardous substances.

It is well recognized that many countries who import chrysotile asbestos have lax standards for safe handling of the product. For fear that it will not be handled safely, most countries have either severely restricted or banned the use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile. Canada’s failure to take action on this issue is contributing to the premature deaths of many thousands of people in countries with poor standards.

The Convention promotes responsible trade by requiring that “prior informed consent” be obtained before a country exports a hazardous substance on its list. The Convention’s Chemical Review Committee has repeatedly called for chrysotile asbestos to be put on the list, but Canada has refused. Harper and Minister Christian Paradis have said that Canada will continue to block the listing.

“It is indefensible for Canada to continue to block the listing, and their actions are bringing shame on Canada’s international reputation,” said Wallace, “We call on PM Harper to do the right thing: Support the Rotterdam Convention and human rights, not the asbestos industry.”

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization of close to 10,000 women university graduates, students and Associate Members in 113 Clubs across Canada that works to improve the status of women and human rights, education, social, justice, and peace. CFUW holds special consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) Commission on the Status of Women and belongs to the Education Sector of the Canadian Commission to UNESCO. CFUW is the largest of the 67 affiliates of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).

For more information contact:
Robin Jackson, executivedirector@cfuw.org, 613-234-8252 ext. 102

Rise up for your rights! Human Rights Conference

Ready to fight for your rights? Click here for more information.

The Conservatives have been busy this summer – quashing the long form census, attacking employment equity, fueling reactionary mistrust of asylum-seekers and silencing their critics by de-funding civil society organizations and muzzling bureaucrats. We’ve been busy too, getting things ready to bring together activists from across the country to plan concrete strategies to stand up to the Conservative agenda. Register now to ensure your space at this important gathering! Can’t wait to get started? Here are a few things you can do right now:

Sign the Voices/Voix declaration: http://www.voices-voix.ca/

Save the Gun Registry: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/action-center/keep-our-communities-safe/take-action-email-call-fax

Campaign to keep the Mandatory Long-Form Census: http://savethecensus.ca

Join a Sisters in Spirit vigil in your community: http://www.nwac.ca/2010-sisters-spirit-vigils

Êtes-vous prêts à défendre vos droits?Vous pouvez vous inscrire en ligne dès maintenant

Les Conservateurs ont été occupés cet été… à tenter d’abolir le questionnaire de recensement détaillé, à porter atteinte à l’équité en matière d’emploi, à alimenter une méfiance réactionnaire à l’égard des demandeurs d’asile et à faire taire leurs détracteurs en privant de financement les organisations de la société civile et en muselant les bureaucrates. Nous aussi, nous avons été occupés… à nous préparer à rassembler des militantes et des militants du Canada entier pour établir des stratégies concrètes permettant de riposter au programme des Conservateurs.  Ne tardez pas à vous inscrire afin de pouvoir participer à cette importante conférence!

Vous avez hâte de passer à l’action? Voici quelques mesures que vous pouvez prendre dès à présent :

Signez la déclaration de la coalition Voices-Voix : http://www.voices-voix.ca/

Sauvez le registre des armes d’épaule : http://www.congresdutravail.ca/centre-daction/prenez-action-feu

Participez à la campagne visant à maintenir le questionnaire de recensement détaillé obligatoire : http://savethecensus.ca

Participez à une vigile des « Soeurs par l’esprit » dans votre communauté : http://www.nwac.ca/2010-sisters-spirit-vigils (en anglais seulement)

Dr. Sima Samar at CFUW AGM 2010

On Wednesday July 14 Dr. Sima Samar, human rights activist and physician met with NGO representatives from Civil Society at a Round Table Hosted for CFUW by Amnesty International.  A number of human rights and women’s groups were there including representatives from the Canadian Muslim community.

CFUW-Ottawa sponsored Dr. Samar’s visit to Canada, as part of the program for the CFUW AGM and Conference in Ottawa from July 16 to 18. Dr. Samar spoke candidly about her experiences and about the need for civil society as well as government engagement.  She addressed issues relating to women’s rights and to the need for education in a country torn by thirty years of war since the time of the Soviet invasion, the rule of the Taliban and the War Lords.

Patricia DuVal, President of CFUW chaired the meeting and recognised all of the groups around the table.

On Tuesday, Dr. Samar was able to attend a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade – meeting first with senior bureaucrats and then with a wider group from CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs.  She spoke about issues of corruption within government and the need to work towards a lasting peace.  The Afghan Embassy hosted a further meeting for Aid Groups on Thursday morning.

Dr. Samar received an Honourary doctorate from Carleton University at a special ceremony on Thursday July 15.  Upon receiving the degree she commented that she had never attended her own graduation ceremony, after receiving her medical degree from Kabul University – because of the political situation at the time.

Dr. Samar holds an honourary Order of Canada – the only non-Canadian to be so honoured.  She was nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and has again been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Samar was the keynote speaker at CFUW’s Confederation Banquet – where once again she addressed the issues important to Aghanistan and the way to peace.  Only when women are educated and become part of the peace process, will a lasting peace be possible.