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National Day of Remembrance and Action
on Violence Against Women

Status of Women Ministers

On December 6th, across the country, we mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On this day in 1989, 14 young women in Montreal were murdered because they were women. As we reflect on this terrible loss, we must never forget that many women continue to live and die in the shadow of violence.

Today, I join all my colleagues across the country, the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women, in a declaration of our commitment to end violence against women.

Violence against women has devastating consequences in many women's lives and significant social and economic repercussions for society as a whole. Every day, women are intimidated, harassed, stalked, assaulted and abused, often at the hands of an intimate partner. As a society, we cannot and must not tolerate this violence. We must recognize and address the root causes of violence against women and the underlying issues of power and control.

The Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women share a vision of safe, healthy communities where women are not exposed to violence or the threat of violence. Our vision is based on the full equality of women and men. We stress the importance of culturally-appropriate and community-based solutions that take into account linguistic, cultural and geographic diversity, that respect Aboriginal values and culture, and that reflect the particular needs of vulnerable groups.

To achieve this vision, all of society must take responsibility. The elimination of violence is a long-term goal which can only be realized through lasting change in societal values and attitudes. Governments cannot achieve this goal alone. Individuals, service providers, voluntary and professional organizations, the broader public and corporate sectors all have a role to play. It is important that men, as well as women, participate in finding solutions.

Sustained action is required, combined with innovative, creative approaches. It is particularly important that programs and services be flexible in their design and delivery in order to be accessible and effective. In this comprehensive effort, strong co-ordination across all sectors is essential, first and foremost to provide safety, as well as to deal with perpetrators, and to prevent violence before it happens.

Our work to end violence against women is guided by the following principles:

  • Living free of violence is a right, not a privilege.
  • Violence against women is a crime and should never be considered a private matter. Crimes of violence must be dealt with accordingly.
  • Safety for victims and survivors must come first.
  • In order to eliminate violence against women, equality and healthy relationships among boys and girls must be promoted from an early age.

Our approach is built on three key strategies: a long-term focus on public education and awareness to change attitudes and behaviour; accessible and responsive services to provide safety and support to victims and prevent re-victimization, and effective justice programs to hold perpetrators accountable and provide treatment programs for abusive men.

On many fronts, our governments have shown their determination to end violence against women. Through our policies and initiatives across the country, and our leadership at the international level in ratifying United Nations conventions and supporting UN action plans, we have clearly articulated the unacceptable and intolerable nature of this violence.

Much work has been done to address violence against women. We will continue to build on the expertise of women's groups and other community partners. Together, we will work to improve the effectiveness of our efforts through ongoing partnership, consultation, evaluation and research.

As federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for the status of women, we reaffirm our determination to stop violence against women. This is a top priority for our governments. Our commitment will be realized through the actions of each jurisdiction. Together, these actions will enable us to meet the challenges and achieve our goal. We owe it to all women who may be affected by violence, now and in the future.