A Blueprint for Canada's National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls

Guideline, Framework
North America


This blueprint is a call to action for the Canadian federal government to launch an immediate public inquiry into the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). Policies, programming, and campaigns will be community-specific and developed within an intersectional feminist framework to prevent gender-based violence. The NAP presents four sections: prevention measures, service responses, legal and justice responses, and social policy responses. In addition, culturally-relevant supports are necessary for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women.

In the absence of a National Action Plan, responses to VAW in Canada are largely fragmented, often inaccessible, and can work to impede rather than improve women’s safety. Current initiatives at the federal level lack coordination, rely too heavily on the criminal justice system, and fail to acknowledge the gendered dimension and root causes of violence against women. Violence against women refers to any act, intention or threat of physical, sexual or psychological violence that results in the harm or suffering of women and girls, including restrictions on their freedom, safety and full participation in society. 

External Authors

Canadian Network of Women's Shelters & Transition Houses
Canada’s National Action Plan needs to include legislation as well as specific resources and strategies for those most vulnerable to violence: Aboriginal women, immigrant women, women with disabilities and young women.
—Canadian Labour Congress

Prevention measures are oriented around collaborative education initiatives targeting all genders focused on education and training on healthy-relationships, bystander interventions, cyber violence, and human rights.

Public service responses concern accessibility barriers to providing women with long- and short-term trauma-informed support services, free legal aid for abuse survivors, and family justice centres. 

Legal and justice responses ensure that all authoritative individuals involved in the Canadian justice system are trained in intersectional gender-based analysis of family and sexual violence, and modify child custody decision procedures.

Social policy responses must create a national housing strategy that recognizes the unique circumstances of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and children experiencing homelessness, and to provide protections for immigrants or migrant workers at risk of exploitation by abusive sponsors or employers.

On any given night, 4,600 women and their 3,600 children are forced to sleep in emergency shelters as a result of violence. On a single day 379 women and 215 children were turned away from shelters in Canada, usually because they were full.




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