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Gender-based violence strategy to focus on better data, prevention and support

June 19, 2017 1:17 PM
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OTTAWA — The Liberal government is launching its long-awaited strategy on gender-based violence Monday, which will include a way to develop and share research on everything from street harassment to getting boys and men involved in solving the problem.

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef will shed more light on which programs will get a share of the $101 million over five years — plus $21 million annually going forward — the 2017 budget committed to a federal strategy on gender-based violence when she unveils the plan in Toronto.

That will include money for creating a centre of excellence within Status of Women Canada, which could help the relatively small agency with an annual budget of less than $40 million get better at making sure its ideas are both evidence-based and taken seriously government-wide.

The need for more and better data was something the federal government had in mind when it began developing the federal gender-based strategy.

"We need to understand when we spend money, how it's being spent, what the results are," Patty Hajdu, who was then minister for status of women, told The Canadian Press in June 2016 as she got ready to launch cross-country consultations. "We have no data. We have no plan."

Those consultations showed those on the front lines were looking to the federal government to play a leadership role in data collection and analysis, including by establishing national baseline data and finding ways to measure which solutions work and which do not.

Experts recommended more research on how gender-based violence impacts specific groups of people, including visible minorities and the LGBT community, the use of safe technology in order to combat online violence, and indigenous women living in both urban and rural areas.

Last Thursday, the government listed other potential research priorities for the centre of excellence in its response to a recent report from the status of women committee, such as "hypersexualization; street harassment; cyberviolence; violence on post-secondary campuses; sex trafficking; engaging men and boys to prevent and address gender-based violence; groups at higher risk of experiencing violence," as well as the potentially harmful effects of algorithms for social media and other online technology.

The centre of excellence will also help the government make sure that its gender-based violence strategy lines up with the recommendations coming out of the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

The government said it will also get better at evaluating its own programs.

The wide-ranging strategy is otherwise expected to focus on better support for survivors, a justice system that is more sensitive to the needs of those who experienced sexual assault or other forms of violence, as well as ways to stop it from happening.

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