Government of Canada Takes Further Action to Advance Gender Equity for Black Women and Girls in Canada

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Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 3, 2021 – Black women and girls in Canada are at greater risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and the Government of Canada is working closely with partner organizations, experts, and those with lived experience to address this and ensure access to appropriate, intersectional, and timely support services.

Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced up to $2.5 million in federal funding for a new project that will advance gender equity and prevent gender-based violence (GBV) against Black women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The project, Advancing Gender Equity for Black Women and Girls in Canada to Respond to COVID-19, will undertake community-based research activities to address gaps related to GBV in the lives of Black women and girls. It will also engage with Black women’s community organizations and experts by convening a National Steering Committee by and for diverse Black women and girls, and develop and deploy a comprehensive national gender equity strategy to address systemic factors contributing to anti-Black racism.

“Gender-based violence remains unacceptably prevalent in Canada, but its impacts are not felt equally. Black women, girls and members of the Black LGBTQ2 community remain at particular risk for GBV and it is essential that we work with the community to take action. This $2.5 million investment will help to strengthen data collection and knowledge exchange and increase the capacity of our project partners and other organizations serving Black Canadians impacted by gender-based violence. Their work will also help to inform the next steps on the National Action Plan to end gender-based violence, making it stronger and more effective. said The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P. Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

The project will be implemented by the Women’s Centre for Social Justice, in partnership with the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Battered Women’s Support Services. It will help:

  • Create awareness about the human rights of all Black women and girls to live free of gender-based violence across Canada.
  • Increase capacity and skills-building resources and partnerships to support community organizations’ responses to GBV and actions to advance equality for Black women and girls’ during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
  • Align policies and procedures with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  • Create and share knowledge through the learning exchange hub with community organizations, educational institutions, the Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Centre, the FPT Forum, and Canada’s Anti-Racism Secretariat.

As Canadians across the country mark the start of Black History Month and honour Black Canadians’ contributions, we must also re-commit to addressing discrimination and anti-Black racism, and to ensuring that everyone has access to equal opportunities. Projects like this one, developed by and for Black Canadian women, are critical to addressing the unacceptable inequalities that remain prevalent in our society. It is more important than ever to accelerate action in support of those who need it most, which is why intersectional and anti-racist approaches will continue to form the foundation to the Government’s response to COVID-19.

“This initiative is going to have such a profound impact on the lives of Black women, Black girls and Black gender-diverse peoples in Canada. It’s the start of a movement focused on truth and transformation, developed and delivered by us, for us. It will allow for the creation of opportunities for us to speak our truths, about the myriad ways that anti-Black racism subverts and undermines our lives. At the same time, we will create a framework that will be used by all stakeholders, especially governments, to advance gender equity for Black women, Black girls and Black gender-diverse peoples in Canada. I cannot stress enough the importance of this work that we are embarking on, how transformational it’s going to be, because nothing like this has been previously undertaken, on such a scale, and focused on us. I am truly honoured to be doing this in partnership with two powerful Black women leaders, Angela Marie MacDougall and Paulette Senior, and remain thankful to the federal government for funding the initiative, and to Minister Monsef for her support.” stated Nneka MacGregor Co-Founder and Executive Director, WomenatthecentrE

“Today is a reckoning with the history of the enslavement of Africans evolving into segregation, anti-Black immigration policies and discrimination in Canada. This has been combined with deep and profound erasure of Black people and communities throughout these lands. No country, including Canada, has reached gender and racial equity, as an examination of the lives of Black women and girls reveals. This initiative is established to train a gender lens on the impact of this history on the experiences of gender-based violence on Black women, girls and people of marginalized genders. I am thankful for the federal government for taking action on ending gender-based violence in the lives of Black women, girls and people of marginalized genders.

As Executive Director at Battered Women’s Support Services, it is my absolute pleasure to join Nneka MacGregor, ED with Women’s Centre for Social Justice and Paulette Senior, CEO with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, toward advancing the liberation of Black women, girls and people of marginalized genders in Canada.” said Angela Marie MacDougal
Executive Director, Battered Women’s Support Services

“When it comes to gender-based violence, the unique needs and experiences of Black women, girls, and Trans and gender-diverse people have been ignored. This has left many stories unheard and have left many abuses unaddressed. This first-of-its-kind research will shed light on the interconnections between gender-based violence and anti-Black racism. It’s a critical step toward building better safety and care for Black women, girls, and Trans and gender-diverse people. And it’s an important step toward organizations, institutions, and services eliminating the longstanding misogynoir and anti-Black racism that have created many barriers to support.”

“I’m thankful that the government has recognized the importance of this work. I welcome this initial investment and look forward to future collaboration and contribution over the next five years to broaden the scope, reach, and impact of the efforts. As President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, I’m thrilled to partner with Angela MacDougall, ED of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver, and Nneka MacGregor, ED of Women’s Centre for Social Justice, who will administer this project.” stated Paulette Senior
CEO Canadian Women’s Foundation

Data collected through Statistics Canada in March and April 2020 suggested that 1 in 10 women in Canada were very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On September 21, 2020, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation announced $1 billion to help address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by rapidly creating new affordable housing.

Since 2015 the Government helped 1 million Canadians get access to safe and affordable housing, including the creation or enhancement of nearly 7,000 units that provide safe housing to survivors of domestic violence.

40,000 childcare spaces have been created since 2015 and the 2020 Speech from the Throne committed to a significant, sustained investment to create a universal child care system in Canada.

In 2020, Canada placed 1st in North America according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, having improved 11 places globally since 2015, compared to 153 countries.