16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Engineering 2023

16 Days begins on November 25th with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and concludes on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. In Canada, 16 Days includes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6th, a day which is especially important to us in Engineering.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence was started at the inaugural Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991; more information can be found at UN Women's website.

16 Days is an opportunity for us to reflect on our history, educate ourselves on the current state of gender-based violence, and start to take action to address it in our community and beyond. This is the only way that we'll achieve goals like 30 by 30 in Engineering in Canada.

Thanks to the support of folks on and off-campus, we've curated 16 days of activities and events to help you learn more and start to have these important conversations. We know that these topics can be difficult in the moment, or triggering for folks who have either experienced gender-based violence or now realize that they have perpetuated harm. You are not alone. Please visit our Help and Support section to access resources available to help you.

Saturday November 25th

“It’s Not Just”: Youth Awareness Campaign

When someone faces violence because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender, that’s called gender-based violence (GBV). It’s Not Just is a national youth awareness campaign created to increase awareness of GBV and ultimately shift behaviours and actions to create a safer Canada for everyone. Different forms of GBV exist everywhere, but we don’t always take them as seriously as we should. Discover what they are and how to stop dismissing them.

Educate: To continue learning more about gender-based violence through the “It’s Not Just” youth awareness campaign, please visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Sunday November 26

What is Cyber Misogyny?

Over the past decade, there have been numerous stories of women and girls being bullied and harassed online. The term “cyber misogyny” has been coined to define the trend and refers to the various forms of gendered hatred, harassment, and abusive behaviour targeted at women and girls via the Internet.

Educate: Learn more about cyber misogyny through a learning network resource created by Nicole Etherington from the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University.

Monday November 27

Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region

The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC) is an organization that listens, facilitates healing, and celebrates resiliency. Using an anti-racist, intersectional feminist approach, they work to transform systems which promote gender-based violence.

Groups: SASC offers many free virtual and in-person support groups and workshops on a variety of topics. Visit their website to see a complete list.

Volunteer: If you’d like to contribute as a volunteer, please visit their website to learn about the different opportunities available.

Tuesday November 28

SVPRO Consent Booth

In honour of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, join SVPRO at their Consent Booth in SLC from 12-4PM. Together, let's work towards building a culture of consent on campus, and advance gender equity.

To learn more about 16 Days and our initiatives honouring the annual event, please visit the SVPRO website.

Wednesday November 29

On Campus Events

Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defence

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO), in collaboration with Athletics and Recreation, is delighted to bring Wen-Do and Acts of Resistance workshops to the University of Waterloo!

Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defence is a workshop designed for women by women. Wen-Do’s goal is to heighten women’s sense of self-trust and awareness of their environment. Techniques are designed for women of all ages, sizes, and abilities. Instructor Leslie will focus on women's safety and empowerment, preparing participants to defend themselves both mentally and physically, and giving them the confidence to deal with the range of types of aggression they are most likely to encounter in real life. The techniques taught are practical and easy to learn, and the learning environment is safe, supportive, and full of positive energy! A combination of discussion, with practical physical skills will result in mental and physical preparedness. Discussions are focused on knowledge and empowerment, and will be approached through a feminist, anti-oppression lens. Wen-Do is a registered charity and the oldest self-defence organization in Canada taught by women, for women.


Date: Wednesday, November 29th

Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Location: To be sent to registrants


Date: Wednesday, November 29th

Time: 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Location: To be sent to registrants

Registration for students, staff and faculty can be found here.

A Way Forward?: Dispositional Barriers to Gender Equity

Conversations about gender equity can be challenging. Not only are there lots of ways that gender inequities can manifest, often making the discussion fractured and complicated, but the personal responsibilities each of us have for collective injustice, and the important real-life impacts of gender inequity can make productive dialogue fraught with dispositional barriers to success.

In this faculty specific lecture, Dr. Jamie Sewell aim's to create some common conceptual ground upon which more productive conversations and work toward gender equity can be built. This lecture will make clear some candidate theories of gender and why investing in the idea of a gender binary is both ethically and empirically problematic. We will also explain the importance of taking an intersectional approach to solutions to gender inequity, and identify some of the most important dispositional barriers to successfully addressing gender inequities.

To register, please click here.

Location Address: Faculty of Math
Room information to be provided at the time of registration

W3+ and GSDA Coalition-Building Event

W3+ (Waterloo Womxn and Nonbinary Wednesdays) and UW’s GSDA (Gender and Sexual Diversity Alliance) are partnering to host individuals and group representatives from across campus who are doing advocacy and activism work towards justice for womxn, nonbinary, and 2SLGBTQIA+ workers (staff, faculty, postdocs, and grad students) and students on campus. For this discussion, we aim to prioritize racialized, trans, non-binary, and women-identified voices and work towards intersectional coalition building. 

If you will be attending, please respond via this form to register.

Thursday November 30

Fighting Gender Bias at Work

Gender bias is holding women back in the workplace. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it harder for women to get hired and promoted and negatively impacts their day-to-day work experiences. Created by LeanIn.Org, this short video series—one introductory video and six two-to-three-minute videos—is designed to provide an understanding of how gender bias impacts women’s and men’s experiences at work. These videos cover the five most common types of biases women face and address the concept of intersectionality. The videos can be watched individually or paired with a card-based activity that brings people together to have meaningful discussions about gender bias. For additional resources on combating gender bias in the workplace, visit LeanIn.Org.

Friday December 1

Bystander Training with Right to Be

Have you ever seen something happen and thought to yourself: “That’s not right. What can I do?” Enter being an active bystander – that person who knows what to do, whether it’s to distract, delay, or document. That person can be you too!

Educate & Action: Sign up for free bystander training at Right To Be so you will know what you can do the next time that something like this happens.

Upcoming Sessions

Bystander Intervention in the Workplace Demo
Date: December 6, 2023
Time: 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM EST

Bystander Intervention 2.0: Conflict De-escalation
Date: December 7, 2023
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST

Stand Up Against Street Harassment
Date: December 10, 2023
Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

Saturday December 2

Celebrating Local and Historical Accomplishments

Colleen James was elected to Regional Council in October 2022, representing City of Kitchener residents.

The 2022 Municipal election has placed more women into office including Waterloo Regional Councilor Chantal Huinink and re-elected Waterloo Regional Chair Karen Redman. Colleen James was elected to Regional Council in October 2022, representing City of Kitchener residents. The Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife is also a champion for education, serving as Trustee and Chair of the Waterloo Region District School Board, Vice President of the Canadian School Boards’ Association, and President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. It’s important to reflect on the accomplishments made and sometimes direct our focus to celebrating the wins.

Educate/Reflect: In the documentary 9to5: The Story of a Movement, female office workers in '70s Boston inspire change with a call for better pay, more opportunities and an end to sexual harassment.

Sunday December 3

What is Rape Culture? What is Consent?

Educate: This 2-minute video defines rape culture - both what it is, and what it is not. We all have a role in addressing our environment and questioning things like gender roles and sexuality as they are portrayed in the media and beyond.

Educate: So, what is consent? This 4-minute video titled “How do you know if someone wants to have sex with you?” does an excellent job of breaking down how to check for consent, what it is and it is not, and some examples. This is part of a larger collection of short videos addressing related issues, so if you’ve got questions about how to handle certain situations, check out these videos.

Monday December 4

Meditation Monday - Engineering Wellness

Action: It is important to practice self-care when learning and reflecting on topics surrounding gender-based violence. As a way to relax and destress, consider attending the Engineering Wellness Meditation Monday.

Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increase balance and stillness, increase awareness, and even expand acceptance and compassion for yourself and others.  Each week will vary slightly. “Practices” include breathing, mindfulness, body awareness, earthly grounding, spatial awareness, centering, and more.

Sessions are facilitated from a well-being perspective. No religious affiliation is needed. Everyone is welcome to participate. All experience levels are welcome from advanced practitioners to those who are trying meditation for the first time.

Why not give it a try! Gift yourself with a few moments of stillness to reset and recharge. It’s as true for people as it is with technology as well as people...we can all benefit from shutting down for a few moments and recharging.

This session is open to all members of the FoE community. Please bring your own meditation pillow or mat to sit on.

Tuesday December 5

Male Allies

For there to be systematic change, allies are needed. Consider getting involved with an organization such as White Ribbon or Next Gen Men.

White Ribbon: White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

Next Gen Men: Next Gen Men is a small-but-mighty Canadian nonprofit whose work is dedicated to one ambitious thing—to change how the world sees, acts and thinks about masculinity.

They bring together perspectives from across North America, across genders, and across backgrounds to talk about why we all have a stake in the future of masculinity.

At Next Gen Men, they are champions of hope, and workers for change. Find them in your community, your classroom, your workplace, online, across Canada, the U.S. and anywhere you find our community.

Wednesday December 6

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Canada changed forever on December 6, 1989 when 14 women were murdered in a gender-based act of violence at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.

The Faculty of Engineering invites the engineering community to join us, on December 6, 2023, for a ceremony and moment of silence observing Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Please join Mary Wells and the Faculty of Engineering as we come together to honour and reflect on the lives of these 14 women and everyone else whose lives were forever changed.

When: Wednesday, December 6 | 10:30 - 11:00 am
Where: Engineering 7, 2nd Floor Event Space
Registration: Link

She Is Your Neighbour Podcast

She Is Your Neighbour is an awareness project and storytelling series created by Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. The project explores the realities and complexities of domestic violence by sharing stories from people of all walks of life. 

Educate: Listen to an episode or a season of the podcast where they take a deep dive into domestic violence, exploring the realities and complexities of it.

Thursday December 7

On Campus Events

SVPRO Consent Booth

In honour of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, join SVPRO at our Consent Booth in SLC from 12-4PM. Together, let's work towards building a culture of consent on campus, and advance gender equity.

To learn more about 16 Days and our initiatives honouring the annual event, please visit the SVPRO website.

Active Bystander Intervention Training

The Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office – SVPRO – is working towards training all members of the UWaterloo Community in Active Bystander Intervention. Active Bystander Intervention provides context and skills to help people intervene when they see harmful, or potentially harmful, behaviour which could include sexual violence but could also include harm such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, harassment and microaggressions.

Intervention can help prevent harm, stop harm, and provide space for support. Bystander Intervention has the potential to build a culture of consent, care, belonging, equity, and well-being within our campus community.

The objectives of this training are to:

  • Understand and define microaggressions, harassment and sexual violence.
  • Recognize the complex roots of these behaviours and how they are normalized.
  • Identify personal obstacles and barriers to intervene safely and effectively.
  • Learn how to safely and effectively apply the 5D Active Bystander Model.
  • Recognize that everyone has a role in creating a safe and caring campus community.

To register, please visit the registration page.

Friday December 8

Intersectionality & #metoo

Gender-based violence doesn’t look the same for everyone. When additional factors such as race and class are layered on top, the experience of gender-based violence can look quite different. Learn more about the amazing Black women behind the terms “intersectionality” and the Me Too movement.

Educate: Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor at the School of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, introduced the term “intersectionality” in 1989 while describing the experiences of Black women with the US legal system.  Learn more about intersectionality by watching this video or this interview with Vox.

Educate: Tarana Burke, the woman behind the #metoo movement in 2017, has recently released a memoir titled “Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement”. Read about Tarana Burke and the movement in this book interview with The New York Times (TW - sexual assault).

Saturday December 9

Why are trigger warnings necessary in an academic setting?

Educate: The Centre for Teaching Excellence has created a resource about trigger warnings and their importance in the classroom. While intended for course instructors, the information presented gives insight and understanding as to why trigger warnings are helpful for students.

Educate: Are you curious about trigger warnings and their relation to gender-based violence? Those who experience gender-based violence can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This Ted-Ed video summarizes the psychology behind post-traumatic stress disorder, the challenges faced by those who experience it, and explains the phenomenon of triggers.

Reflect: Now that you have an understanding of trigger warnings, do you think they are important to make our classes and campuses inclusive? Can you use this knowledge to make the spaces you inhabit more inclusive?

Sunday December 10

International Human Rights Day 2023

So...now what? Here we are on Day 16, so we’re done, right? Well, not exactly. These 16 Days are just the start of the activism required to address gender-based violence in Engineering, at Waterloo, and beyond.

Action: Think of ways you can incorporate what you’ve learned in these 16 Days into your everyday life. Whether it be through educating yourself on your local communities politics and exercising your right to vote, completing training, or providing support to those around you, every step you take is one leading closer to a world where gender-based violence doesn’t exist.

Help and Support

Help and Suport

We know that these topics can be difficult in the moment, or triggering for folks who have either experienced gender-based violence or now realize that they have perpetuated harm. You are not alone.

On-campus help and support for students:

For support outside of UWaterloo business hours, for emergency support, and for students outside of Canada:

Help and support for UWaterloo staff:

Thanks and Gratitude

Thanks and Gratitude

This would not have been possible without support from the following people and organizations:

  • Ravita Surajbaliat and staff at SVPRO
  • Sam Vandekerckhove and Renate Donnovan
  • Akashia Smith and Mary Robinson in Engineering Equity and Diversity
  • Sam Lawson
  • The Centre for Teaching Excellence
  • Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region
  • W3+ (Waterloo Womxn and Nonbinary Wednesdays)
  • UW’s GSDA (Gender and Sexual Diversity Alliance)
  • Right To Be
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • ...and many more