Taking Action for Women and Girls: December 6 Statement by Ken Neumann

Take action to end violence against womenTwo hundred Women of Steel from local unions across the country gathered recently for a successful USW National Women’s Conference. A key theme of the event was Action to End Violence Against Women. As we mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, I want to encourage all Steelworkers to take part in actions to ensure Canadian women and girls can live in safety.

Conference delegates signed postcards and an online petition, urging new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action. To continue the pressure, activists are being asked to telephone or visit their Members of Parliament. The message is two-fold: we want a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, based on real consultation with Aboriginal women’s organizations and with victims’ families. And we want the federal government to create a national action plan to end violence against women, following the “blueprint” created by women’s organizations across the country.

Before its election on October 19, the Liberals announced that they would act on both fronts. We welcome this new attitude on the part of the federal government. We also must keep up the pressure to ensure that the government keeps its word, with real and effective programs. For our part, the United Steelworkers will continue to act and to support our allies in the women’s movement.

On December 6, we remember the day in 1989, when a man murdered 14 young female engineering students at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. On this day, it’s hard not to think of the many other victims of gender-based violence, in particular the 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered since 1980. And while awareness grows, thanks to the hard work of our allies such as the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses, the Ending Violence Association of B.C., the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the YWCA, the violence hasn’t stopped. Most recently, women who are or appear to be Muslim have been the targets of physical attacks, layering religious hatred on top of gender violence. And shameful evidence is emerging from the Val d’Or region of Quebec about police exploitation of Aboriginal women.

We honour those who have lost their lives by committing ourselves and our union to action to end violence against women and girls.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Sign the USW's Petition to End Violence Against Women and Girls

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