16 Days

This date is an auspicious one in Canada and represents one of the greatest opportunities for social innovation and healing in our lifetime.

Every year, from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (World Human Rights Day), Canadians observe the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. In the middle of this is the anniversary of one of this country’s worst acts of gender-based violence: the attack on women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, which is today (December 6th).

Nearly every year at this time I depart from the usual writings on innovation to focus on an issue that is truly the innovation for our times: gender-based violence.

When you consider that one half of this planet’s human population are women and girls alone (who represent the majority of the victims), this issue is staggering in its scope. Add in those who are attacked based on their gender — trans, cis, or otherwise — and those witnesses to such violence, the children who see adults do this to each other or are victimized as well and the impact of this issue becomes nearly incalculable. Many of you who are reading this blog have been touched by gender-based violence directly or as a witness and all of us know someone — whether we realize it or not — who has been directly affected by this now or in the past.

This issue is more than about 16 days of reflection and activism. It is about truly changing the world, for the better, for the most of us.

If you are looking for an issue to tackle and want to innovate for good, this is an issue that is often hidden in plain sight, but more dangerous and impactful than any pandemic and far more persistent. We don’t have a vaccine against this, but we do have treatments that can prevent its transmission, growth and that can foster care that can be provided to women and men who are victims of gender-based violence every single day.

If you are in Canada and looking for resources on gender-based violence, the Government of Canada has a starting place. If you are looking for charities and places to give as we enter what is the holiday season in many parts of the world, consider donating to your local shelter, food bank, children’s mental health centre, or family violence prevention support and research organization. There are many of them all over the world and they can use your help.

Let’s innovate this issue out of existence.

Image Credit: Marker of Change, memorial consisting of 14 coffin-like benches in Vancouver by artist Beth Alber used under Creative Commons License.

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