2017 started with women, men, and children around the world marching. While the marches initially began as a protest against the US Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, they evolved into much more than that. The marches spread around the world, with people gathering together and protesting for many different reasons.
They were marching for equality for women; for women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and workers’ rights. They were marching for an end to discrimination; against sexual harassment and abuse; against healthcare reform that would take away benefits.
The momentum didn’t end there, with last year becoming a banner year in the fight for female rights and safety. 2017 also became the year that started the #MeToo movement, which has carried on into 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down. Beginning with actresses in Hollywood coming forward with accusations of sexual abuse and harassment, women worldwide began sharing similar stories of their own. A safe space is finally opening, and many women now feel supported in their decisions to speak truths that they have been hiding for many years. The push to break the silence is continuing, and for that, we are grateful; grateful that women of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations feel empowered and supported.
Yet, there is still work to be done.
There are laws and legislation to be challenged, stereotypes to be broken, and even more safe spaces to be created. While many women are now able to speak up and be heard, there are still many others who are isolated and unable to speak. Violence against women is still prevalent, all over the world. It’s in our neighbourhoods, at our workplaces, in our families, and amongst our friends.
With 2018 barely underway, in Ontario alone, six women have already been killed by an intimate partner in domestic violence situations. January isn’t even over. Let that sink in. In less than one month into this year, six women have lost their lives at the hands of a former or current partner. Clearly, there is still so much work to be done.
The truth is, we can all play a role in helping end violence against women.
We can stand up for others who need help, by refusing to be silent bystanders.
We can look out for signs of domestic violence among those we care about.
And, perhaps most importantly, we can be good neighbours, coworkers and friends, watching out for one another and taking action if something seems amiss.
Let’s make sure we continue fighting for women’s rights, equality, and freedom. Let’s also make sure we realize there are things we can all do to end violence against women and children. Take the time to read the warning signs, equip yourself with knowledge, and never stop marching.