You know about Gender Based Violence (GBV), but you may not be aware of how prevalent it is among teens and young adults. Young women and girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, racialized women and women living with disabilities are all at higher risk of violence due to their gender. For example, did you know that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest risk of dating violence?
North York Women’s Centre has had significant past success addressing GBV with young women and girls, but our new pilot project with the staff and students at Weston Collegiate Institute offers a creative twist. This weekly, spoken word poetry program will invite young women and gender-diverse youth to explore topics such as positive relationships, consent and gender equity. We are thrilled to have Canvas Programs support program facilitation, because they have extensive experience in creating judgment-free programs where participants can critically examine harmful norms and create positive change. Running weekly from October to December 2023, the program will culminate in a performance for young people in the Weston-Mount Dennis community.
“Gender, race and poverty can all limit opportunities for young women,” says Diamond Antwi-Mansah, NYWC’s Manager of Programs & Services. “These factors, along with media messaging and internalized racism and sexism, can lead some women to overemphasize romantic and sexual relationships and underemphasize their safety within them.”
In other words, when status and identity are predominantly tied to heteronormative and cis-normative romantic relationships, it impacts how young women and girls see themselves, their future prospects and their relationships. This can put them at elevated risk for domestic and intimate partner violence.
The goal of this project is to help reduce gender-based violence by shifting young women and girls’ perceptions of their value and future, and how they expect to be treated by peers, family, community and intimate partners. The first session will take place on October 17, 2023 at Weston Collegiate Institute, and students there are invited to register. We hope to expand the program to other schools and youth groups in northwest Toronto, as well. (Other interested schools and community centres can email diamond AT nywc.org to find out more.)
This project is funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation through a Slaight Family Foundation Ending Gender-based Violence in Critical Communities Grant. The Canadian Women’s Foundation was launched in 1991 to address a critical need for philanthropy focused on women. Since then, it has raised more that $130 million and funded over 2,000 projects across Canada. It is one of the largest women’s foundations in the world.
Interested in supporting or getting more information about this program? Contact Diamond Antwi-Mansah at 416-781-0479 or diamond AT nywc.org today.
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