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In brief: National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence

Introduction

Everyone has the right to live free from violence. However, many people in Canada continue to experience violence every day because of their sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender. This is gender-based violence (GBV), one of the most pervasive, deadly, and deeply rooted human rights violations.

30% of women report having experienced a sexual assault since the age of 15.Footnote 1 44% of women report having experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime.Footnote 2 Not only does GBV impact individuals, families, and communities, but it also places a costly burden on the health, social, and justice systems. In 2009, it was estimated that IPV had an economic cost of $7.4 billion annually and sexual violence a cost of $4.8 billion annuallyFootnote 3Footnote 4

Preventing and addressing GBV in Canada requires a coordinated national approach, with federal, provincial,Footnote a and territorial governments working in close partnership with victims, survivors, Indigenous partners, direct service providers, experts, advocates, municipalities, the private sector, and researchers.

In January 2021, the Joint Declaration for a Canada Free of Gender-Based Violence was endorsed by the federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for the status of women. It laid out the High-Level Framework for Joint Action, identifying the vision, goals, pillars, and foundation for the National Action Plan.

The National Action Plan was developed through the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Forum of Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women and their respective government partners and agencies. It builds on existing federal, provincial, and territorial approaches and strategies to prevent and address GBV. It is a strategic framework for action within and across jurisdictions to support victims, survivors, and their families, no matter where they live.

Federal, provincial, and territorial collaboration is key to the development and implementation of a national response. All jurisdictions have different roles to play but share responsibility in changing the attitudes and behaviours that sustain GBV and in implementing the National Action Plan to End GBV.

High-Level Framework for Joint Action

Vision

A Canada free of gender-based violence. A Canada that supports victims, survivors, and their families, no matter where they live.

Guiding Principles

Goals

Overview of Pillars and Opportunities for Action

Pillar One – Support for Victims, Survivors and Their Families

GBV services provide critical, life-saving support and safe spaces, and they deliver social, health, and community services that protect and empower victims and survivors, including women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people experiencing violence. The safety and wellbeing of victims and survivors are at the centre of the National Action Plan to End GBV in recognition that they are the experts in their own personal experiences, with diverse backgrounds and needs.

Examples of Opportunities for Action

Pillar Two – Prevention

The National Action Plan to End GBV emphasizes primary prevention approaches that address the root causes of GBV to stop violence before it occurs. Prevention cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. These efforts must be gender-informed/sensitive and inclusive, intersectional, trauma- and violence-informed, and culturally appropriate in order to best meet the needs of diverse populations.

Examples of Opportunities for Action

Pillar Three – Responsive Justice System

GBV is a violation of human rights and, in many casesFootnote b, a violation of Canadian criminal law. Over the years, changes have been made to improve the experiences of victims and survivors. These include the enactment of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and various amendments to Criminal Code provisions related to testimonial aids and victim impact statements, as well as changes to clarify the law surrounding sexual assault. Efforts have also been made to increase awareness and training about the needs of victims and survivors of all crimes, including GBV. However, there is still room for improvement.

Examples of Opportunities for Action

Pillar Four – Implementing Indigenous-Led Approaches

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments and communities in Canada should continue their commitment to fostering and maintaining relationships based on respect, partnership, and recognition of rights with Indigenous-led organizations, including gender-based violence organizations, and with Indigenous peoples. Working with victims, survivors and their families, Indigenous governments and partners, non-governmental organizations, provinces, and territories as well as working horizontally across federal institutions will help ensure a coordinated approach that supports sustainable progress towards ending gender-based violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, no matter where they live.

Examples of Opportunities for Transformational Change

Pillar Five – Social Infrastructure and Enabling Environment

While GBV occurs across all socioeconomic groups, populations that already experience socioeconomic inequities (e.g., poverty, homelessness, or inequitable access to healthcare and social services) are at a greater risk of experiencing GBV. Challenging the normalization of GBV and addressing systemic inequities are both important steps to addressing its root causes.

Examples of Opportunities for Action

Foundation  

Implementing the National Action Plan to End GBV requires a strong foundation based on the following three components:

Examples of Opportunities for Action

Monitor and report on the progress of the National Action Plan to End GBV

The National Action Plan to End GBV is designed to adapt to evolving needs and emerging issues. As a next step, federal, provincial, and territorial governments will further discuss its implementation and develop more detailed targets and indicators.

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