How the City is working to address gender-based violence

Nov. 25 marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs from Friday, November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to Saturday, December 10 Human Rights Day.

This global campaign raises awareness about gender-based violence and is an opportunity for the City to promote the safety of women and gender-diverse persons in our community through our policies and strategies.

While the campaign runs for the next 16 days, the City’s commitment to preventing gender-based violence continues every day. Here are some of the actions we’re taking to make our city safe for all women and gender-diverse persons:

  • Providing learning materials and training events for City staff on preventing gender-based violence
  • Updating the City’s Respectful Workplace Violence and Harassment resources to prevent, protect and address gender-based violence
  • Creating strong policies and plans to protect against and better respond to gender-based violence
  • Including a focus on gender-based violence within the City’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan
  • Funding the first study on economic abuse, which documents the unseen and unheard struggles experienced by survivors in Canada
  • Increasing access to free menstrual products in City facilities

Moving the Women and Gender Equity Strategy forward
The City’s commitment to women and gender equity is reflected in the Women and Gender Equity Strategy. The strategy was approved by City Council in April 2021 to ensure that City services, plans and strategies integrate a gender lens and proactively promote the participation of women and gender equity.

Phase one of the strategy is underway and focuses on introducing gender-responsive changes in City plans, strategies and services. It also focuses on raising staff awareness about gender equity and collecting data to understand the experiences of women.

Phase two of the strategy aims to make meaningful change in the City by collaborating with the community to define how Ottawa can reach its goal of achieving gender equity. In June, the City gathered feedback from the community to inform the design of phase two, which is expected to be presented to Council in 2023.

City participates in UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Spaces global initiative
This autumn, the City began to participate in UN Women’s global flagship initiative, Safe Cities and Safe Public SpacesOpens in a new tab or window. This initiative, spanning 55 cities in 32 countries, supports efforts by local and national governments to prevent and respond to sexual and other forms of gender-based violence against women and girls in public spaces.

“In recognition of the universal challenge of sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women in city spaces, the City of Ottawa joins a strong global network of local governments, women’s rights and other civil society partners who are committed to making visible sexual harassment in public spaces, which affects most often differently positioned women and girls, and taking concrete action to end it,” said Kalliope Mingeirou, Chief, Ending Violence against Women Section, UN Women.

By participating in the initiative, the City gains access to knowledge, tools and technical assistance that supports our efforts to prevent gender-based violence in public spaces.

The initiative aligns with the City’s key equity strategies and plans, including the Women and Gender Equity Strategy, Anti-Racism Strategy, Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Plan, Reconciliation Action Plan and Community and Safety Well-Being Plan.

“Every woman and girl deserves to live a life free from sexual harassment and to feel safe in public spaces. Joining the UN Women program, Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces as part of the City’s Women and Gender Equity Strategy promotes the right for women and girls to enjoy public spaces, free from violence,” said Suzanne Obiorah, Director, Gender and Race Equity, Inclusion, Indigenous Relations and Social Development, City of Ottawa. “It promotes safe access to essential services. It promotes enjoyment in cultural and recreational activities. It enhances social inclusion for women and girls and promotes positive health and well-being. Ottawa becoming a champion city as part of UN Women’s global flagship initiative arms us with tools and resources from across the globe to promote respectful gender relationships, gender equality and, ultimately, brings us closer to realizing our vision of becoming a safe and inclusive city for all residents.”

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