The following letter was written by Erin Leigh, Executive Director of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW). It’s to Canada’s new Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau – and asks him to deliver on his promises and not to let violence against women and gender-based violence become something he addresses “later, down the line, or in the future.”
Make it your priority.
Dear Prime Minister,
Congratulations on your election as the leader of our country!
During your campaign, you made your commitment to the importance of achieving women’s rights and ending violence against women and gender-based violence clear. Now is your time to commit your word to action.
On October 19th, Canadians voted for real change. We went to the polls and made it clear that we want an inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. We want gender parity in the Cabinet and House of Commons. We believe that Canada is a pro-choice country. Canadians showed the world that we want endemic violent attitudes and behaviours that show that women and individuals from marginalized genders aren’t valued to end – today.
No political party, no province, no city, no individual supports violence against women and gender-based violence. However, when ending gender-based violence is not a priority, there is tacit endorsement of abuse, misogyny, and violence against women. We realize there are other priorities as well; you highlighted your commitment to the middle class and economy in the past 78 days. People must have living wage, employment and stability. But remember that spousal violence alone costs the Canadian economy $7.4 Billion a year – taking into account employers, the individuals, health care, policing and more. Remember, no child exposed to violence can have stability today, and her future potential is also compromised.
It is your time to help end the scourge that curbs our country’s potential, and hampers our democratic capacity at the hands of misogynistic stereotypes, beliefs and actions.
Now is the time to follow through on your commitments:
- To implement a national action plan to end violence against women
- To implement an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women
- To achieve an equal number of men and women in Cabinet
In each of these, ensure that development and implementation prioritize the expertise of those working in front line service delivery and survivors of gender-based violence. Particularly, the voices of Indigenous women, racialized women, trans women and women with disabilities who are at greatest risk of experiencing violence need to be heard. They see daily the impact of a complex, multi-jurisdictional, and often unjust, system that continues to punish women and individuals from marginalized genders that experience violence.
The moment is now to deliver on your promises. Don’t let violence against women and gender-based violence become something you address later, down the line, or in the future.
Make it your priority. Address it now, on Day 1 as leader of Canada. Make it Canadians’ priority. Be a true leader that turns values into concrete measures to end violence.
Sincerely, Erin Leigh, Executive Director