The third week of April is Prevention of Violence against
Women Week in British Columbia. As part of its efforts to focus attention on
the ongoing issue of family violence, and galvanize the community to take
action to help prevent it, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter submitted this article we
are proud to publish.
The question of how to stop the
ongoing problem of violence against women is complex, with deep, historical
roots in how society views women.
Every day, we are assaulted with imagery and messaging
that objectifies women, and supports gender inequality and the deep-seated
attitude that women deserve less social power than men.
In addition to providing safe haven
and counseling support to women and their children who have experienced abuse,
the Kelowna Women’s Shelter is working to change those attitudes, through
strategic education programs that target the next generation.
Our SuperNova program for children
and Inside/Out Youth Program work to break the generational cycle of abuse by
engaging young people to identify and address the issues and challenges they
SuperNova is a free, 8-10 week
after-school program for children who’ve been affected by family conflict or
Each week focuses on a different
topic, including self-esteem, identifying and expressing feelings,
understanding changes and challenges within families, healthy communication,
boundaries, anger, and ways to stay safe.
Over the past year, about 100 children
had the opportunity to benefit from SuperNova.
Offered free to schools and
community groups, the Inside/Out program uses group discussion, activities,
information sharing, and multi-media resources to help students recognize and
seek out respectful relationships.
This powerful, interactive
program fosters the development of critical thinking skills that empower youth
to make positive lifestyle choices, and equips them with the tools to break the
cycle of abuse. This school year, more than 400 students from kindergarten to
grade 12 participated.
But educational efforts
are only one piece of the puzzle. The long-term solution to violence against
women is a societal one, and each of us has a part to play in changing the
attitudes and behaviours that lead to abuse.
Here are some things we
can all do:
Address women respectfully at all times. Actions speak louder than
words, and boys in particular look up to the men in their lives to model
Don’t put up with putting down women. Particularly in certain settings
such as sports, it seems acceptable to degrade or put down women with language
and humour. It isn’t.
Teach children it’s important to treat everyone, no matter what
their gender, with the same respect they’d like to receive.
Encourage young people to admire and emulate heroes – whether
professional athletes, movie-stars or musicians – that respect women.
Model, and talk about, healthy relationships.
If you witness a woman being threatened or assaulted, offer your
help or call 911.