As we launch our Say No to Violence Challenge and mark 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women, we’re proud to re-post this meaningful piece from International Commissioner Sharron Callahan, who has volunteered in Guiding with victims of violence.
It’s something no one wants to think about – violence against girls and women. But it’s 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 our new Say No to Violence Challenge is all about. In Canada, about 80% of victims of dating violence are female, and only 1 in 3 Canadians understand what it means to give consent. Through the Say No to Violence Challenge, girls will gain a better understanding of gender-based violence and healthy and unhealthy relationships. Whether it’s Sparks and Brownies learning about safe friendships, Guides learning about online harassment or Pathfinders and Rangers discussing dating violence, Say No to Violence covers the topics that Canadian girls need to know for safe and fulfilling relationships.
I encourage you to work with your unit on the Say No to Violence Challenge during 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women (November 25-December 3), an international campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against girls and women. This movement highlights the following significant events:
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25)
- World AIDS Day (Dec. 1)
- National Day of Remembrance and Action of Violence Against Women (Dec. 6)
- International Human Rights Day (Dec. 10)
As members of Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du 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.
Having volunteered as a Unit Guider 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?
Guest post by Sharron Callahan. Sharron is Girl Guides of Canada’s International Commissioner.
How is your unit marking 16 Days? We invite you to post right on our Facebook page, or on Twitter or Instagram, tag us and use hashtag #16days.