The global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence comes to a close today. However, we all share a collective responsibility to continue this activism beyond these 16 days. Gender-based violence happens in our own community and around the world. It is only when we stand together, raise awareness and take action that we have a chance to end this type of violence. 

In September, the Region of Waterloo joined nearly 50 Ontario municipalities in declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic. The statistics are alarming. Every day, police in our region respond to 17 domestic violence calls per day. Over 60,000 calls related to intimate partner violence have been made to police in the past 10 years. According to the World Health Organization, gender-based violence affects 1 in 3 women worldwide.  

In June, this violence permeated onto our campus when members of our community were injured in a gender studies class in a hate-motivated attack related to gender expression and gender identity. The attack came less than a year after the murder of alumni Sarah Inam as a result of intimate partner violence in 2022. 

As an institution, the University of Waterloo is committed to creating inclusive, safe and welcoming environments for all members of our community. It takes action by everyone to end this violence.  

Voices across our faculties and campuses are advocating in many ways to raise awareness and draw attention to issues related to this violence. Earlier this week, Waterloo’s Engineering hosted its annual memorial ceremony recognizing Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Arts along with the Office of Research recently launched the Antagonism and Intimidation in Academia Speaker Series that will culminate with an international conference this summer. The Urgency of Social Justice Speaker Series, which takes place monthly, also provides a platform to discuss these important issues.  

Our community also comes together in the November each year to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit People with the annual installation of the Bridge. The installation led by Dr. Sorouja Moll with support from the Office of Indigenous Relations (OIR) and the Sexual Violence Prevention Response Office (SVPRO) and the annual Red Dress Day displays are a way for our community to represent and honour the lives of the missing and murdered while showing solidarity for their families and loved ones.   

For just over two weeks every year, the world shines a spotlight on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Together, we can keep these important conversations going to raise awareness and take action towards ending gender-based violence in our community and beyond.