Solidarity with Iran and the Elimination of Violence against Women
Today, we join with the global community in recognizing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th, which begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence culminating in World Human Rights Day on December 10th.
Recent events underscore the importance of these commemorations — in particular, the appalling murders of Mahsa Amini and over 300 protestors in Iran, many of them young women. The uprisings for women’s freedoms are nearing the third month, and highlight the ongoing advocacy of Iranian feminist and solidarity movements that have existed for decades. The suppression of fundamental human rights and ongoing discrimination against women have led to horrific injuries, both physical and mental, and innumerable deaths.
This crisis in Iran illustrates the political dimensions of public health and health care, which we must always remember.
We also note that gender-based violence and women’s rights are an issue in our own homes and institutions. In Canada, indicators of intimate partner violence and gender-based violence increased drastically in the spring of 2020, underscoring the shadow pandemic of violence alongside COVID-19. Compared to cisgendered people, trans and gender-diverse people are significantly more likely to experience physical or sexual assault.
Within these 16 Days of Activism, on December 6th U of T will join Canadians in remembering 14 young women who were killed at Polytechnique Montréal in 1989.
Stereotypes, misinformation and (micro)aggressions that undermine women’s rights to exist and succeed are still present in our historically male-dominated spaces. Each time we hear them, we must speak up to counter comments that question the need for gender representation, judge the demographics of specific specialities or research areas, or deny gendered power hierarchies. These comments and resulting behaviours can entrench anti-feminist attitudes, thoughts, and resentments which in some cases, lead to acts of violence.
It may seem that recognizing the excellence of women in our community has come a long way from the sexist histories of our institutions. However, let’s not forget the ongoing threats to women and gender-diverse people in our institutions and across the globe, and the need to eliminate them. Acting in allyship and solidarity is key for each of us, both as individuals and as members of educational and healthcare institutions.
Please find below some resources for support for those who have been impacted by ongoing events in Iran, and further education on gender-based violence:
Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown
Dean, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Associate Dean, Inclusion & Diversity
Temerty Faculty of Medicine