Persons Day - October 18 - is a day in Canada meant to commemorate the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons”. It marks the time when women were finally granted the right to vote in elections. The problem with celebrating this day? This decision did not include all women - Indigenous women and women of Asian heritage and descent were excluded. It really only reflects gains in voting rights for privileged, white women. While many Canadian women did gain the right to vote during the 1920s, it was not until much later that all women - especially Indigenous and minority women - were allowed to do the same.
My name is Tanya Marie Lee. Close to four years ago, I created a book club for Teen Girls 13 to 18 years of age entitled “A Room Of Your Own”. This book club gives young women a Grrrl Positive Space to be themselves without judgement. We honour, respect, love, and celebrate everything about being a young woman growing up in today’s society, standards, and pressures. What makes this book club special is that the girls are given the books for free 4 to 6 weeks in advance, they meet the author and we focus on mental health and wellness. We have terrific discussions with the authors and the young women involved. We choose books that are relevant to young women’s lives, that reflect diversity, and that have great female protagonists of all abilities. Young women relish in the idea of seeing themselves and their friends reflected in the literature they are reading.
Every day is a milestone in the life journey. Over the years, I have come to recognize that there is a core part of me that is unchanging, that remains always with ‘being young’ in the sense that I am who I have always been. There is a constant me. At the same time, I am in constant motion, being moved along with time that is never still, in this body that ages around me. Sometimes I catch a glimpse in a mirror and am struck by the distance between how I feel and how I appear. Am I really a ‘senior’? Already?
September is recognized across Canada as a time to Take Back the Night (TBTN). TBTN events are for those who have been hurt by domestic and sexual violence, their supporters and everyone who wants to live in a world free of violence. It is a time for communities to acknowledge gender-based violence against women and girls is a global issue that happens ‘here’ at home. Activities, include rallies, marches, dinners, coffee houses, and candlelight vigils. The events are designed to raise the awareness of safety issues for women and children, and to protest the harassment, sexual abuse, and assaults experienced by so many in our society. All people have the right to be free of violence and should be able to walk at night without fear.
In a recent Statistics Canada survey conducted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, 10% of women and 6% of men reported that they were concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. The rise of domestic violence is not unique to Canada. Worldwide, rates of domestic abuse climbed steadily as countries went into lockdown mode. Since March of 2020, at least 1/2 of the world’s population has been or is currently in lockdown. Stuck at home with their abusers, often cut off from support systems, victims have found themselves facing an increased risk of abuse. Isolation is a powerful tool that many abusers use on their victims. During lockdowns, those experiencing abuse have become even more isolated from any supports, such as friends and family, the workplace, or social agencies.
There’s a lot of talk about father-daughter relationships. How a father can teach his daughter about love, about what a good partner looks like, about how to respect herself. These are all very important, of course. But, what about father-son relationships? Isn’t it just as important for a father to teach his son about love and what a respectful relationship looks like? Of course it is! With Father’s Day right around the corner, we want to share lessons on how dads can teach their children (sons AND daughters) all about healthy relationships. Whether you have a daughter or a son, the cornerstones of love and respect look the same.
While everyone will experience this time differently, a generalized sense of anxiety and uncertainty is floating through the air. Some people may be quarantined with their family or small children, while others will be entirely alone. In some situations, women and children will be stuck at home with their abusive partner. Shelters and women’s advocacy centres are working at maximum capacities in many cities, with some also lacking resources and support. Feelings of fear and loneliness can be common.
May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Canada. Sexual assault, and sexual violence more broadly, is something that’s become increasingly prevalent in news stories and on social media. It’s not that sexual violence itself is increasing-- rates of sexual assault seem to have remained consistent for over ten years -- it’s just that our awareness of these experiences have continued to evolve. Since #MeToo stories burst into the spotlight at the end of 2017, there has been increasing momentum to not only talk about experiences of sexual violence, but to understand why they are so common and hopefully put a stop to them.
We are learning hard lessons about pandemics and the kind of actions that can save lives. Violence committed against women and girls, because they are female, has been described as a pandemic. It is a public health threat that is prevalent, sometimes fatal and global.
The recent worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought about something that most of us have never seen before: a near complete shut-down of daily life as we know it. Schools and daycare centres have been shuttered; restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls, and other businesses have been forced to close their doors; some companies are having employees work from home, while others have laid off workers indefinitely.While these closures are necessary in order to stop a devastating spread of this virus, there is a stark and equally devastating side effect to this reality that many people are fortunate enough to know nothing about: an increase in family violence.