Knowledge centre (Photo)

The Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Centre will attempt to address gaps in society's understanding of gender-based violence, Dec. 12, 2018.

Federal officials announced the launch of an online Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Centre and $5 million in funding that addresses knowledge gaps in gender-based violence research Monday morning at Western University. 

Located within the Status of Women Canada site, the platform compiles current data on federal activities, statistics and research related to gender-based violence and provides resources for survivors. The online hub provides researchers, stakeholders, community organizations and individuals with a one-stop shop for access to relevant and up-to-date information on gender-based violence. 

The announcement was made by Maryam Monsef, the federal Minister of Status of Women, at Western’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children on the last day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which also falls on Human Rights Day.

“For interested individuals, organizations and communities, having this access to information means that they don’t have to invest their scarce resources in projects and ideas that have already got solutions from others’ efforts," said Monsef. "It also means that we get to real change much faster."

The platform is the result of long-term consultations and collaborations with community leaders on gender-based violence, which started in 2016, explained Monsef at the launch. She highlighted the role of London community leaders in the consultation process, leading to the launch from Western's campus. 

The site provides a centralized hub for survivors across the country to access information and resources they need. Further, it brings together federal funding envelopes related to gender-based violence in efforts to make collaborations across organizations more efficient 

“This centre, because it’s going to be accessible to everybody, can offer answers, and beyond that, offer hope to survivors,” said Barb MacQuarrie, community director of Western’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children. “For survivors to see themselves reflected in this kind of research is going to make a huge difference, and I think it’s really going to promote healing on many levels.” 

Monsef also announced a $5 million research envelope that aims to fill knowledge gaps on gender-based violence, highlighting areas such as cyberviolence, intimate-partner violence and violence against individuals with intersecting realities, such as members of the LGBTQ2+ community and individuals living in rural and remote communities.  

The funding is part of a call for proposals to support evidence-based policy and programs, with particular interest in Indigenous-led and co-created projects that address the diverse needs of their communities. The call will complement data from three on-going national surveys on gender-based violence. The findings of these projects will be updated on the GBV Knowledge Centre.  

“One gap that I've heard from policy analysts and others working in the policy setting is it’s really difficult for them to find the best available evidence [on a topic],” added Nadine Wathen, a professor in Western's Faculty of Information and Media Studies who researches violence against women. "I think that this particular knowledge centre and especially its initial focus on having or giving those policy folks access to the knowledge they need to develop stronger better policies … is incredibly important.  

These announcements are part of the first-ever federal strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence based on three pillars: preventing gender-based violence, providing support to survivors and their families and ensuring a responsive legal justice system, Monsef explained. 

This federal strategy is further marked by $50 million in funding for organizations that support individuals most vulnerable to experiencing gender-based violence, as well as a partnership with Statistics Canada that recently launched a data hub on gender, diversity and inclusion statistics 

The movement has a tremendous amount of knowledge and wisdom that has been painfully gained over many years, and we want to honour that knowledge by making sure that we share it with others,” said Monsef.  

MacQuarrie further acknowledged the value of investing in this platform and emphasized the importance of continuing to make progress in order to reach the most vulnerable, marginalized individuals who are still unable to share their experiences.  

“There’s no doubt that it’s a very hopeful time," said MacQuarrie. "There’s no doubt that we’re starting to break the silence,… but we can’t confuse the number of voices that are speaking up and the number of people that are talking about their experiences with actually having resolved the problem. Do we need to keep going? Absolutely.” 

The GBV Knowledge Centre will continue to expand in the upcoming months as feedback from community members informs the platform’s functions.   

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