This captivating image beautifully captures the unwavering support shared among women, girls, and femmes, symbolizing the strength and unity within our community. Now imagine yourself in this room – can’t you sense the profound support, unconditional love, and the feeling of safety and freedom? Yet, for many, that feeling of safety and freedom is not the reality experienced by some women in this country and across the globe.

Today, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, we honour the remarkable strength, achievements, and unity of women, girls, and femmes worldwide. It’s a day to celebrate their resilience in the face of adversity but also to confront the harsh realities of gender-based violence, misogyny, and oppression that continue to plague our communities.

On average, every 48 hours, a woman is killed in Canada by her intimate partner.

Recent statistics from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability paint a grim picture of the challenges many women and girls still face. In 2023 alone, 189 women and girls were violently killed in Canada, with 145 cases involving primary or sole male accused (88%), marking a horrific 19% increase from 2019.

Shockingly, 76% of women and girls are being killed in the very places all people deserve to call safe—their homes (own home, home of the accused, or in homes shared with the accused). Trapped in environments of violence, many women find themselves navigating a housing crisis exacerbated by the very places they should feel secure.

When fleeing domestic abuse, securing temporary housing becomes a critical step towards safety. Yet, 75% of women remain unable to find affordable accommodations, leading some to return to their abusers because they can’t find affordable housing.

How is BWSS challenging this cycle of violence?

At Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), we refuse to let this cycle of violence go unchallenged. For 45 years, we’ve stood alongside survivors, providing crucial support and advocating for their safety. Our latest initiative, opening 10 second-stage housing units in May 2024, represents a significant step towards empowering survivors on their journey to independence and healing.

In these safe spaces, survivors receive comprehensive wrap-around support, including counseling, mother-child reunification services, and community-building activities. It’s not just about securing physical shelter; it’s about providing a bridge from crisis to a life free from violence—a journey marked by stages of crisis management, stabilization, and, ultimately, healing.

As we reflect on International Women’s Day, we draw inspiration from the resilience and solidarity demonstrated by women within our communities. Together, we reaffirm our commitment to ending femicide and gender-based violence. We invite you to join us in this crucial endeavor, standing shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand with survivors, just as depicted in the inspiring photo, as we strive to create a world where every woman, girl, and femme can live free from fear and oppression.

Today and every day, let us celebrate the strength, unity, and unwavering resilience of women everywhere. Together, we can build a future where every woman’s right to safety and dignity is not just recognized but fiercely protected.

To donate or to learn more about our housing campaign – A Safe Home Changes Everything.

Image of a key in a lock. A Safe Home Changes Everything.