WomanACT is a Toronto charity that works to eradicate violence against women. We spoke with them to find out more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
WomanACT is a charitable organization that works to eradicate violence against women through system change. We do this through community mobilization, coordination, research, policy and education. We also have a membership of individuals and organizations who help us reach our mission.
What problem does it aim to solve?
WomanACT aims to eradicate violence against women. In Canada, more than 40% of women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime and a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six days. WomanACT envisions a world where all women are safe and have access to equal opportunities.
When did you start/join it?
I joined WomanACT in 2008. The organization was founded in 1999.
What made you want to get involved?
The organization is unique in terms of the type of work it undertakes. We are not a shelter or a counselling agency; we don’t provide direct client services. We instead work very closely with service providers and women with lived experience. WomanACT is key in identifying evolving trends and gaps in the support systems and public policies that continue to impact victims of violence. We also know that the prevention of violence against women through education is essential, and this is one of our key areas of work.
What was the situation like when you started?
There was a perception that domestic violence is an intimate matter, the idea that “those” kinds of issues should only be dealt with privately, and that neither family members, friends, nor colleagues at work had any role to play when preventing and responding to domestic violence incidents.
How has it changed since?
We are talking about this issue more and more. We now recognize that violence against women doesn’t just happen at home; it usually extends into the workplace. We recognize that we all have a role to play when preventing and responding to domestic violence incidents as friends, colleagues, managers, and bystanders. This is especially important in the context of WomanACT’s recent Workplace Culture Safety Survey, which showed 1 in 3 employees have felt unsafe or uncomfortable at work and 42% of Canadian workers have experienced some form of harassment in the workplace.
What more needs to be done?
A lot more needs to be done. To start, we need more awareness, more education and more collaboration between different levels of government to address violence against women. At WomanACT, we are tackling these gaps by providing leadership for cross-sectoral groups, delivering organizational training to prevent and respond to violence, and conducting research and policy analysis.
How can our readers help?
Ask your executives, leaders, and managers to support your workplace to honour victims of gender-based violence through action. Book a WomanACT session that teaches employee awareness of gender-based violence, bystander interventions, and positive workplace cultures that prevent harassment and violence.
Do you have any events coming up?
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global UN campaign calling for an end to violence against women and girls. It commences on the 25th of November, the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women and finishes on Human Rights Day, the 10th of December.
WomanACT is supporting Canadian organizations by offering 60-minute sessions called Creating a Culture of Safety: Ending Violence Against Women at Work that teach employee awareness of gender-based violence, bystander interventions, and positive workplace cultures that prevent harassment and violence. To mark the 30th Global 16 Days Campaign, WomanACT invites Canadian companies and organizations to make a bold commitment to eradicate gender-based violence.
Where can we follow you?