The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg to participate in safer cities for women

WINNIPEG – The government of Manitoba announced today that Winnipeg has been selected as the first city in Canada to join the UN Global Safe Cities Initiative to address sexual violence against women and girls, Kerri Irvin-Ross, Minister of Family Services and Status of Women, and City Councillor Scott Fielding made the announcement at The University of Winnipeg’s Convocation Hall.

“If girls are to thrive and reach their full potential, it is critically important that the environments they grow up in are safe,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Ending violence that is targeted at females is a community responsibility, and this UN Initiative recognizes we must collaborate to create a culture of respect.”

UWinnipeg will be supporting and participating in this important initiative, through the department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Roewan Crowe is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies.

“My colleagues and I are looking forward to working with students at UWinnipeg to explore the potential meanings and possibilities of this significant UN Initiative,” said Dr. Crowe. “As feminists we understand violence to operate institutionally and economically, as well as interpersonally, and we are committed to anti-violence work that it is intersectional, recognizing the links between racism, colonialism, class oppression, ableism, sexism, slut shaming, heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia. We look forward to entering into dialogue with members of the UN Safer Cities committee to interrogate initiatives and strategize around ways to meet safety needs of women and all who face gendered violence to make our city safer.”

“All over the world, women and girls face sexual harassment and violence as they go about their daily routines on their streets, buses and in their own neighbourhoods,” said Minister Irvin-Ross.  “These daily occurrences of violence rob them of their rights as citizens and make it harder to get an education, work, play and participate in all aspects of life.”

The Safe Cities Initiative will generate innovative approaches to preventing and reducing sexual violence against women and girls in urban public spaces, Minister Irvin-Ross said.  This will enable women and girls to move more freely and safely, allowing them to exercise their right to enjoy their cities, the minister added.

The Manitoba Status of Women is partnering with UN Women, representatives from the Winnipeg Police Board, Winnipeg Police Service and community stakeholders on this initiative.  This steering committee will identify which locations in Winnipeg require targeted efforts to address this serious crime.

“I am honored to be a part of this initiative,” said Councillor Fielding. “Every person has the right to feel safe and live in a world free of sexual harassment. The adverse effects sexual violence has on woman and girls are devastating, and it is my hope that education and prevention will help mitigate this terrible epidemic.  We have a lot of work ahead, but this is a step in the right direction.”

“Indigenous women are especially targeted by sexualized and racialized violence,” said Leslie Spillett, Executive Director, Ka Ni Kanichihk. “Winnipeg’s Crime Statistics confirm that economically and socially marginalized neighborhoods have significantly higher rates of violence against women than areas of concentrated economic and social privilege. This is also demonstrated by the extremely high numbers of sexually exploited victims and data related to Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. It is hoped that this initiative will shine light on the underlying factors that replicate this alarming and increasing rate of violence and more importantly, to find appropriate and long terms prevention strategies.”

The initiative is being launched as part of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10.  Dec. 10 is also International Human Rights Day.

Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg
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