May 25th, 2024

University presentation explores gender-based violence on National Day of Remembrance


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 10, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

As part of a call to action, the University of Lethbridge hosted a webinar this week focused on understanding the impact of gender-based violence on university campuses.
With Dec. 6 recognized the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the country remembers the lives of the 14 women who died as a result of gender-based violence at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.
Participants in Monday’s presentation learned about gender-based violence and resources on campus, as well as the role everyone can play to keep the campus and community safe for all, no matter gender expression or gender diversity.
The presenter was Carmen Guenther, sexual violence prevention educator at the University of Lethbridge. She explained gender-based violence as violence that is committed against someone based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender.
“It includes, physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, economical or educational deprevation whether occurring in public or private,” said Guenther.
She explained that this type of violence can manifest in many ways, like intimate-partner violence, human-trafficking, child marriage, female genital mutilation, violence against two-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals as well as in laws and regulations that limit women’s and girl’s rights and access to services and education.
“Gender-based violence and systemic inequality disempowers women, girls and minorities, it stifles their voices,” said Guenther.
She said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, calls to helplines for gender-based violence increased five-fold in some countries due to restricted movement, social isolation and economic insecurity.
She answered the question of why it matters. She said that gender-based violence has long-term effects on women who have experienced it.
Guenther shared images that showed banners with profane and gender-offensive slogans that she explained were used by students at the Queens University in October 2021.
“In the past 10 years, institutions of higher education have been under increased pressure to effectively respond and prevent gender-based violence in their campus, because the impacts of gender-based violence can cause immediate and long term physical and mental health consequences for college and university students,” said Guenther.
She shared results of a 2019 study by Statistics Canada that showed 47 per cent of students witnessed or experienced discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation and 71 per cent of students witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviours.
Towards the end of the webinar, Guenther shared a quote from Judy Rebick, a Canadian writer, journalist, political activist and feminist that said “The best way to remember these fourteen women is recommit ourselves, women and men, to the fight for women’s liberation and an end to violence.”
Guenther closed by saying “Becoming aware of gender-based violence should not be viewed as a burden or source of guilt, but rather, an opportunity to learn and be responsible so that we may work toward a more just and inclusive world.”

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