Twitter exploded overnight Wednesday into Thursday with the news that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling himself a feminist.
While Trudeau may be surprised by this reaction, Canadians should be expecting more from women’s rights.
“I am a feminist,” Trudeau announced to the UN crowd in New York on Wednesday.
Afterwards, Twitter lit up with praise for the PM.
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 16, 2016
— UN Women (@UN_Women) March 17, 2016
Trudeau said that he will keep saying it loud and clear until it is met with a shrug.
“Why, every time I say I’m a feminist, does the Twitterverse explode?” he asked, adding that calling for gender equality should be a mainstream political position.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Andrea Gunraj, a communications specialist with the group METRAC Action On Violence, said for women knowing your history is the only way to change your future.
“We can’t be ignorant of what has happened when we’re trying to make things better,” said Gunraj, whose group is based in Toronto.
In Canada, Gunraj explains, statistics demonstrate that one in two women experience some form of violence in their lifetime and one in four experience sexual assault.
Due to the fact that these acts are not uncommon, it has been a constant topic within the media.
That is proven true with the attention Trudeau’s comment has been making since Wednesday, she said.
Gunraj said that this is why schools being involved does increase awareness and is very encouraging.
“There’s more happening these days, which is good, but healthy relationships, consent and prevention of violence should be a topic of learning from JK [junior kindergarten] right into post-secondary. Curriculum can be changed to reflect that and school policies and practices can follow up in practice,” said Gunraj.
Jessica Bowen, Manager of Human Rights, Equity and Diversity at Humber College’s North campus in Toronto, said the school is committed to ending all forms of violence.
The college’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Diversity recognizes that sexual harassment and violence against women is a serious subject that requires much attention, as too many voices are silenced.
“Human Rights Services is committed to providing educational resources on our website and during events, such as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women educational resource booths, to ensure the Humber community is equipped with the information that is needed in the event an incident of sexual violence occurs,” said Bowen.
Gunraj said we still need to change policies and practices in schools and work to make it easier for people to report and be safe.
“We need a society where 100 per cent of people who have been abused feel like they can come forward if they choose, not just 10 per cent,” said Gunraj.
“And for those who don’t want to report in that manner, services and supports need to be well-funded so they can meet the demand and do more to help prevent and educate so we don’t only respond to issues when they come forward but stop violence before it starts.”
Bowen said students could help by doing the following and to not be a bystander.
“The responsibility lies with you to act, interrupt and stop violence and abuse against women. Everyone can do it, and every action makes a difference,” said Bowen.