December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This is a day to reflect on how violence affects women in our country and how every one of us can take concrete action to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence. December 6 commemorates the anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. They died simply for being born female.
December 6, 1989: L'École Polytechnique massacre
28 years ago, in Montréal, a young man armed with a rifle entered an engineering classroom at L'École Polytechnique. Before pointing his rifle at the women in the class, the gunman said: "You're all a bunch of feminists, I hate feminists."
He killed 14 female students and staff. In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life; he believed women had no place in engineering because they would take jobs from men.
"The massacre is over, but misogyny is still in the air: violence against women is a worldwide challenge", says Betty Carrasco, National Vice-President of the TWU, USW National Local 1944, and Chair of the Women of Steel Committee. "Gender-based violence prevents women from fully taking part in public life, and its consequences hurt families and society as a whole."
Turning horror into hope
For the men and women who survived that day, each anniversary signifies hope. Since the massacre, L'École Polytechnique has been encouraging young women to study in fields such as engineering. Currently there are about 2,000 female engineering students enrolled at the school, which amounts to 25% of the total number of engineering students. This percentage for female students is representative throughout the country. What has been achieved in the Canadian engineering schools can be achieved in every other area of everyday life, anywhere.
Actions you can take to help put an end to violence against women
- Attend a vigil, honour and remember
- Teach girls to protect and empower themselves
- Teach children to resolve conflict without violence
- Support any violent person you may know in getting help
- Make your home, workplace and community safe environments for women and girls
- Start the conversation about violence in your community
- Spread awareness about media that convey negative images of women and girls
- Tell your MP what you think about the problem
- Promote women's economic and political equality
- Support organizations that work to end violence against women
- Take the pledge and ask your friends and family to do the same: www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/commemoration/vaw-vff/pledge-en.php
- Step in the movement and be a part of the conversation in the social media: #MYActionsMatter
The Telecommunications Workers Union, United Steelworkers National Local 1944