The Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women
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Women’s Shelters Canada (formerly the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses) launched the Mapping VAW Policies & Opportunities project in November 2012. Research for the project was carried out between January and June of 2013. The resulting report, The Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, reviews gaps between existing policies and legislation in Canada related to violence against women (VAW) and concludes that in the absence of a National Action Plan, responses to violence against women in Canada are largely fragmented, often inaccessible, and can work to impede rather than improve women’s safety.
In addition to comprehensively reviewing policies, legislation, and provincial/territorial action plans relevant to VAW, the report looks at protection and support for survivors, response of legal systems and the law, housing, social justice, research/measurements, and VAW prevention. The research reveals how the federal government does not identify women – as a singular demographic – as an at-risk population in terms of intimate partner violence or sexual violence which impedes progress on VAW and its root causes.
Among the report’s other key conclusions:
- Women’s safety is compromised by government under-funding and that a change in orientation is needed for service provision to Aboriginal women
- Legal systems across Canada are costly, inaccessible, fragmented, and must be improved in order to better address VAW and benefit survivors
- There are few evaluations of what works to prevent VAW, change attitudes and behaviour, and respond effectively
The report argues that a National Action Plan on VAW in Canada is needed to finally ensure: consistency across and within jurisdictions in policies and legislation that address VAW; shared understanding of the root causes of VAW; consistent approaches to prevention of and responses to VAW; collective pursuit of the most appropriate solutions; coordinated, clear, and effective services and systems for survivors of VAW that respect and respond to diversity.
An Executive summary can be found here.
Funding support for the Mapping VAW Policy and Opportunities Project (MVP) was provided by the Canadian Women’s Foundation.