Join Amnesty International Canada in taking action during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence that starts on November 25, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through to December 10, International Human Rights Day. This year’s Human Rights Day will also mark the 75th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
16 Days is an annual, international campaign that raises awareness and supports action against gender-based violence in Canada and across the world. Today, this campaign is globally recognized and celebrated due to the advocacy efforts of activists and defenders in the 1980’s leading up to the Women’s Global Leadership Institute initiative in 1991. Advocates chose to run the campaign between November 25 to December 10 to establish the fundamental connection between women, girls and LGBTI+ people’s rights as human rights. Thirty-one years later, the campaign is annually used as an organizing tool to advocate for gender justice.
Violence against Indigenous, Black and Racialized Women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ defenders and activists
Violence against women, girls, Two-Spirit and LGBTI+ people, continues to be a pervasive reality in the Americas. Women and LGBTI+ defenders and activists experience life-threatening abuses, criminalization, surveillance, harassment and deathly attacks.
For Black, racialized, and Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and LGBTI+ defenders and activists, gender-based violence is compounded by interlocking oppressions like hetero-patriarchy, misogyny, racism, casteism, ableism and xenophobia, in the context of colonialism. All the while, access to justice, resources and culturally affirming supports is limited and underfunded.
Indigenous Land and Water Defenders
From Canada and to the tip of South America, Indigenous and Afro-descendant women and gender-diverse defenders are facing grave threats, as they seek to protect their lands, precious water, forests, and the communities that depend on them against resource extraction and colonial expropriation.
Environmental issues, resource extraction and climate crises perpetuate violence against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people, manifesting in sexual violence, environmental racism, human trafficking and an extremely high number of Indigenous women, girls and Two-spirit people (MMIWG2S+) going missing and murdered in extractive industry localities.
Sign in front of Blue River in Secwépemc Nation territory, British Columbia: Secwépemc Elders and community members did a prayer circle to raise awareness about the continued violence against Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ land and water defenders. Photo Credit: Judy Wilson. Secwepemc Nation
Defenders and Activists in Exile
To escape the various threats of violence and human rights abuses, many racialized women and LGBTI+ defenders increasingly seek Canada as a refuge to continue their advocacy work. With their arrival to Canada as racialized newcomers, they experience lengthy immigration processes, systemic racism and discrimination and unequitable employment practices. As defenders, they also face specific challenges manifest in continued safety concerns and threats to them and their loved ones, a loss of existing advocacy networks, and psychosocial health and wellness challenges.
Technology Facilitated Gender Based Violence
Digital technologies have increasingly emerged as a tool to harm and silence the voices of women and LGBTI+ defenders and activists. This modern form of gender-based violence, which is also called technology facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV), is disproportionately impacting Indigenous, Black and racialized women and LGBTI+ people exposing the alarming trend of threatening rhetoric based on the intersections of gender, race, class, caste or religious affiliation.
Research has also found that globally, trans women experience higher proportions of TFGBV. In Canada, in addition to encountering hate speech, death threats, smear campaigns, deadnaming, racist and sexist abuse, trans and gender diverse people have become the indomitable targets of newer forms of cyberbullying such as doxing and swatting. Immediate attention is needed to address and prevent TFGBV and other forms of gender-based violence.
That is why it is important to join the global conversation and get involved with the 16 Days campaign. In doing so, we can collectively build a culture of respect, equity, safety and autonomy for all women, girls and LGBTI+ people, defenders and activists and work toward the full realization of their human rights.
16 Days Guest Blog Series
Join us from November 25th to December 10th, to celebrate the stories, struggles and activism of Indigenous, Black and racialized women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ activists, defenders and community organizers from across the Americas.
We are thrilled to share the following guest essays during the #16Days that make visible the perspectives of Indigenous, Black, and racialized women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ defenders and community activists across the Americas.
The links to these guest blogs will become available as we publish them throughout the 16 Days:
- In Guatemala, women are under attack, an interview with Maya Kaqchikel lawyer and human rights defender Wendy Geraldina López Rosales about gendered and racialized attacks on Indigenous women land defenders and justice workers in Guatemala.
- Breaking the Silence: Transnational Advocacy and Gendered Violence in Afghanistan by Shabnam Salehi who writes about the lived experiences of Afghan women defenders in exile in Canada and the importance of transnational advocacy in the struggle against gender apartheid in Afghanistan.
- Stories of Water by Black Colombian community leader and water defender Yuvelis Morales, of the Colombia Free from Fracking Alliance. This personal reflection examines how Climate Justice, Gender Justice and Racial Justice are intertwined.
- The Hidden Figures of #DropKiwiFarms by Liz Fong- Jones. Liz shares her personal and professional insights and struggles with transphobia, anti-2SLGBTQQIA+ hate and extremism in online spaces.
- On the frontlines: Defending the territory of Indigenous lands and Indigenous women’s bodies in northern Mexico by Mariana Villarreal, Coordinator of the Network in Defense of Indigenous Territories of the Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI). Mariana’s guest essay focuses on the experiences of Indigenous women defending lands, forests, water and Indigenous rights in Chuihuahua.
- Canada must end violence against Indigenous women and 2SLBGTQQIA+ land and water defenders by Tiny House Warrior Kanahus Manuel (Secwépemc Nation). Kanahus reflects on the impact of resource extraction, colonial expropriation and gendered and racialized violence on Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ defenders.
It is vitally important to listen to what these leaders want to tell us and learn from their wisdom!
Here are some more ways you can take action during the 16 days and beyond!
Wear Purple on November 25
On November 25, wear purple to show your support and raise awareness about violence against women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Take a photo and share it on social media. Remember to use the campaign hashtags #16Days and #noexcuses and tag us so we can share your post on @AIWomenrights @KpriceAmnesty and @AmnestyNow
Attend an Event, March or Rally in your Community
Here are some events you can attend in your locality throughout the 16 Days:
Lighting Ceremony at Guelph City Hall followed by Community Event at Guelph Market Square where 16 Guelph Community Leaders will share how they are working to challenge gender-based violence.
November 25th at 6:00pm EST
Honour Indigenous Victims and Survivors of Gender Based Violence with North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre. There will be gathering with keynote speakers addressing femicide, gender-based violence, MMIWG2S+ and racism.
December 1st at 9:00 am EST
Attend the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women Memorial to mourn Ontario’s femicide victims and the victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique Montreal tragedy.
To register for the event, please complete this google form.
Engineering Building, 245 Church Street
December 6 between 12:00- 1:30 pm EST
Sign our E-Actions
Sign and share our e-action that is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc to respect the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples and end violence against Indigenous women girls, Two-spirit and gender diverse people.
Sign and share our e-action calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada to urgently address rising 2SLGBQIA+ hate and violence.
Sign and share our e-action calling on Guatemala to free unjustly imprisoned justice worker Virginia Laparra.
Sign and share our e-action calling on Colombia to implement a far-reaching reform of the police to ensure the killings and gender-based violence that took place during brutal repression of a national strike in 2021 never happen again.
Read Amnesty International’s recent submission to the Universal Periodic Review, in which we raise concerns about human rights violations experienced by women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada: Human rights in Peril. Amnesty International. (Submission to the 44th session of the UPR Working Group, 10 November 2023).
Read Amnesty’s joint open letter with gender justice and human rights organizations calling on the federal government to demand an immediate ceasefire by all parties in the Israel and the occupied Gaza strip: Feminist Organizations Joint Appeal for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza
Learn more about Build a Bigger Wave and Ontario Association of Interval and Transition House’s (OAITH) WE COUNT FEMICIDE BECAUSE… initiative and about how you can take action.
- For 24- hour multilingual service support, please call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline: 1-866-863-0511 (toll-free)
- You can also call the Victim 24/7 Support Line: 1-888-579-2888 and the Fem’aide 24/7 Support Line: 1-877-336-2433 (French only)
- 24-hour mental health counselling and crisis support are available for survivors throughout the week. Please call the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat.
- To find more Indigenous-led services and support near you, please access the Native Women Association of Canada’s Culturally Safe and Trauma-Informed Knowledge Hub.