Campus prepares for 16 days of activism
This year marks the 20th annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Starting on Nov. 25 and going until Dec. 10, the Women’s Centre will be actively raising awareness about gender-based violence both locally and internationally.
The kickoff day falls on the International Day Against Violence Against Women. Other important days within this time period include International Women Human Rights Defender’s Day on Nov. 29, World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, and the Anniversary of the Montreal massacre on Dec. 6.
The Women’s Centre on campus always holds a vigil in remembrance of the 14 women who were shot and killed by an enraged gunman, Marc Lepine, on December 6, 1989. On that day, Lepine screamed, “I hate feminists.” Then he opened fire.
“The vigils are marked by different speakers every year to talk about issues that would be pertinent to women. Last year we talked about the long gun registry, which is one of the things that came up after the massacre, as a way to try and secure a little bit more safety for women,” said Gill Arnott, Executive Director of the Women’s Centre.
Arnott also said that she knows that gun-related deaths among women have decreased in the years since the long gun registry came into play.
“And last year they tried to scrap it,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
In the past, The Women's Centre has held fundraisers where money collected from ticket sales were donated to women’s organizations both local and international. “We divvied up the money from last year’s fundraiser between two organizations – the Saskatchewan Sisters in Spirit, a grassroots organization here in Saskatchewan doing important work – and we sent the other half of the money to an organization in Costa Rica which works to get women and children off of the street who are engaged in street work,” she explained. The year before last, The Women’s Centre’s international focus had them donating half of the proceeds from their fundraiser to women in the Congo.
On World Aids Day, there will be a table in Riddell Centre. “Usually, we hand out ribbons, and take donations, and just try to keep the conversation going,” Arnott said. She argues that red ribbons are not old, the AIDS pandemic is not over, and we need to keep this conversation in public forums.
She acknowledges that the 16 days fall at a bad time of the semester. Since it is a very busy time for students, the Women’s Centre try to plan events that don’t require a lot of the students’ time. This year, Arnott implores students to participate with whatever little time they have.
“Students could help out by letting people know when we have stuff going on, like when there’s a dinner or when there’s a bake sale so that people can come and buy stuff to support the work we do.”
This year, the bake sale will be on Dec. 1 at the university, and the fundraising dinner will take place at the Fainting Goat.
“If you can’t come to the dinner or don’t have enough for a full ticket, just make a small donation,” implored Arnott. She said the organizations that the Women’s Centre supports are not government funded and, therefore, are always scrounging for whatever little money they can get.
“So even 10 or five dollars goes a long way,” she added.
Above anything else, Arnott would appreciate students showing interest in the efforts made by the Women’s Centre during these days, “read the information or take the ribbon. That’s all I’m asking for.”
The Women’s Centre always has an open door for anyone who wishes to become more involved in the struggle to put an end to gender-based violence even after the Days of Activism are over. They work together with other organizations like Amnesty International, and SCIC, and always have informative events like films and speakers going on.
Arnott hopes that since the 16 days proceed the holidays – a time for giving, sharing, and making resolutions for the new year – students will be inspired to participate in that same spirit. She feels the Women’s Centre is, “a place for growing,” and says that their doors are open to the entire student body – men included.