For years, Women’s Shelters Canada, along with many other organizations, has been calling for a National Action Plan (NAP) on Violence Against Women (VAW). Canada needs a NAP on VAW to ensure that women in all areas of the country have access to comparable levels of services and protection. A NAP would ensure a shared understanding of the root causes of VAW as well as coordinated and effective efforts across the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels.

In the Liberal Party’s platform during the last election, they pledged: “To help protect more people and bring an end to gender-based violence, we will build on the foundation we laid with the Gender-Based Violence Strategy and move forward with an additional $30 million investment to develop a National Action Plan. This will help ensure that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Currently, the services a woman fleeing violence can access vary according to where she lives in the country. This is unacceptable, as the services you receive should not depend on your postal code.

A NAP on VAW should benefit every woman, equally. But women do not experience levels of violence equally. In Canada, Indigenous women are 2.7 times more likely to be victims of violence and 6 times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women.

One of the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was for all governments, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, to develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. In June 2019, in their response to the Inquiry’s Final Report, the Liberal Government pledged to develop and implement a National Action Plan to respond to the Calls for Justice.

This is why, during the 16 Days of Activism, we’re calling on Canada to develop a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, which is separate from and complementary to a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

On December 5, the eve of the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, Women’s Shelters Canada will be hosting a social media blitz to get #NAPonVAW trending. We’re asking the federal government to start developing a NAP on VAW within the next 6 months. Stay tuned and please share our tweets and posts – and your own – on December 5!