It’s something no one wants to think about – violence against girls and women. But it’s all more common than you might think. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. All violence is unacceptable, as is the humiliation, intimidation, and control that too many girls and women experience in their relationships.
The time is now to start the conversation on an issue that we’ve been silent on for far too long. Building from a whisper to a shout, we need to talk, join together and inspire action on violence against girls and women. That’s what 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is about. 16 Days is an international campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against girls and women. From November 25 to December 10, this movement will also highlight other significant events affecting girls and women: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (Nov. 19); World AIDS Day (Dec. 1); the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (Dec. 6); and Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).
As members of Girl Guides of Canada, there is so much we can do – and are already doing – to have an impact on the lives of girls and young women. Our unit meetings offer a safe and unique space where girls can feel comfortable discussing difficult issues, such as healthy relationships. Guiding is also a place where we are building strong and supportive relationships between girls. As a mentor, you are inspiring girls to contribute their time, energy and ideas to make their communities safe and peaceful places to be.
Throughout the 16 Days, Girl Guides of Canada will be showcasing the voices of Canadian teens. Our #6teensfor16 is an online initiative that engages girl Members in the discussion around violence against women.
As a Guider working in a unit in a women’s shelter in St. John’s, NL, I’ve seen the devastating effects of violence against women and girls. But I’ve also seen the hope – the hope for a safe and brighter future.
We can change people’s minds and change girls’ lives. If we don’t take a stand, who will?
Chief Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada -Guides du Canada