The Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon raises awareness of gender-based violence and encourages residents to take positive action to end the violence. (File photo)

The Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon raises awareness of gender-based violence and encourages residents to take positive action to end the violence. (File photo)

LETTER: End gender-based violence

Vernon women’s organization raises awareness of campaign

In recognition and support of the annual United Nations initiative called 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon is writing to raise local awareness about this crucial issue and to encourage readers to take positive action to help end the violence.

The UN initiative starts on Nov. 25, the date set aside as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It runs through to Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as the first chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights and played an instrumental role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, once said”

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world…Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

This statement is as true today as it was in 1958. Human rights begin with our individual actions toward our fellow human beings.

Thus, so too does elimination of violence against women. Our individual acts matter as they directly impact those on whom they are focused. However, the ripple effect can extend the impacts, either one person at a time or in ever-widening circles.

There are many concrete actions we as individuals can choose to take to help eliminate this violence. We offer only some suggestions here:

1. Be an ideal model and treat others with respect just as you would like to receive – we all remember the Golden Rule.

2. Speak up against unacceptable jokes degrading women, or at least don’t laugh at them.

3. If a friend is being abusive – or being abused – explain your concern in private and ask if they’d like to talk about it, friend to friend; or help him or her seek help.

4. Remember, inaction is also a choice. “Walk a mile in her shoes.” Choose to act positively.

We also recommend reviewing the website set up by Women and Gender Equality Canada at https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/violence/knowledge-connaissance/about-apropos-en.html and its Preventing Abuse page that has suggestions for women and men on how to act when confronted by abusive situations, https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/commemoration/vaw-vff/prevention/index-en.html, together with related links as set out in these sites.

Individually, we can make a difference.

On behalf of CFUW Vernon,

Donna Tomljanovic, president

Barbara Van Sickle, issues convenor

Bev Weidman, secretary