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Educating Ourselves

Violence issues are complex – there is always an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.

Strive to understand the systems issues to surface the ways we can work together for collective impact. This section of the website provides tools and definitions that support learning along the BBWON strategic directions.

  1. Feminism and other Big Picture Factors provides context on why violence against women is a global issue.​
  2. ​​Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Call to Action
    At the Fall 2015 Forum, participants recommitted to supporting Indigenous peoples and issues. One way we can do that is to educate ourselves about Truth and Reconciliation and our shared history of colonization and oppression. A PowerPoint presentation has been created for VAWCCs to serve as an introduction to issues and links to resources. 


BBWON is committed to feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive values and principles.


Wikipedia: Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men. 

There can never be a single 'authorized' definition because there are many experiences of feminism. Learning to embrace differences without reducing them down to a single 'right' concept, definition or experience is a feminist ideal. Feminism at its core is about choice. Feminist theory focuses on analyzing gender inequities that are built into society. Themes explored in feminist analysis include discrimination, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, patriarchy, stereotyping, art history and contemporary art and aesthetics.

Below are quotes that speak to what feminism is: 

We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. Malala Yousafzai

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminsit whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. Rebecca West

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. Audre Lorde

It's not good enough to say we're going to talk about feminist issues...It's about making sure that women from all walks of life can attend. Aiko Maroon

You have to go outside a lot of societal norms to bring up a boy that's a full human being and not a squashed down, emotionally repressed, aggressive person, which is what we're all dealing with among so many adult men. Michele Landsberg

I will keep saying I'm a feminist until there's no reaction. ...If you're a progressive, you really should be a feminist because it's about equality, it's about respect, it's about making the best of the world that we have. PM Justin Trudeau

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Desmond Tutu

Though we have the courage to raise our daughters more like our sons, we've rarely had the courage to raise our sons like our daughters. Gloria Steinem 

Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of woman hating. Andrea Dworkin

If we’ve personally faced discrimination, we know beyond doubt that it exists. But if we haven’t faced it ourselves, we often doubt that it happens. Kathy Caprino

Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centres, women's refuges, reforms in the law. If someone says, 'Oh, I am not a feminist', I ask, 'why? what's your problem?' Dale Spender

When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch. Bette Davis

I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I am beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story. I will. Amy Schumer

Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men. It does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan. And it does not mean you are a bitch or a dyke. It means you believe in equality. Kate Nash

I always get asked, "where do you get your confidence? I think people are well meaning, but it's pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, 'you Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You're not skinny. You're not white. You're a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you're worth anything?. Mindy Kaling

I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. Lupita Nyong'o

Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there. Kurt Cobain

Feminism isn't about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength. G.D. Anderson

For most of history, 'anonymous' was a women. Virginia Woolf


The feminist focus on ending violence against women and children does not exclude men as allies and does not imply that the wellbeing of men is not also important. Men are feminists too. Gender inequity and the intersections with all types of identity-based discrimination set in the world of unregulated capitalism are the common issues that need to unite us. Work needs to be done to build bridges between different groups working for inclusive social and economic change that addresses oppression in all of its forms. We have to push ourselves to look beyond violence as a strictly individual phenomenon to see that inequities and oppression are structured into society. With or without a feminist frame, men working toward peace, gender equality and social justice are allies.


ARAO is used as an umbrella term that includes activities, practices, policies, ways of thinking, and initiatives that address oppression in all its forms (e.g. racism, homophobia, classism, ageism, ableism). Key to anti-oppression is an understanding that inequality and oppression exist in the world, and that all of us participate in unequal power dynamics in a variety of ways. Anti-oppression involves reflection and making choices about how to give, share, wield, or withhold power to assist and act in solidarity with people who are marginalized. Anti-oppression is sometimes used with the terms equity and acessibility: Anti-oppression is a broader term that includes a commitment to equity and accessibility. See both equity and accessibility.

See OCASI website: make your organization more accessible and inclusive 


A common analytical technique employed by feminist researchers is intersectional analysis, which maintains that gender cannot be accessed by itself but must be studied in conjunction with other forms of identity. The linkage between gender, race, and class has been increasingly explored, but other aspects of identity, notably sexuality, age and ability have been examined as well in relation to gender. BBWON is committed to inclusion that acknowledges women who are LGBTQ, have disabilities, are older, are immigrants and refugees and/or indigenous are more vulnerable to violence because of their identity.

See: the Learning Network: Intersectionality and  VAW empirical research applications 


Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property; in the domain of the family, fathers or father-figures hold authority over women and children. Most cultures in the world have been based on fundamental patriarchal tenants that assume women are inferior and should be subservient to men. Patriarchal values can be seen in things like the wage gap between men and women, lower pay scales in sectors predominantly comprised of women workers (social services, food services, childcare), and the unequal ratio of male-female leaders in top positions in most sectors. Attributing greater value to only half of the human species has caused untold suffering to both women and men. In a 2014 study of data from the World Health Organization found that men in the world’s most patriarchal societies have higher mortality rates than those living in places with greater gender equality and have a better chance of living longer in societies where women are equal to men, according to researchers. See Tony Porter's powerful video that talks about how men are also victims of patriarchy.

(and what does that have to do with violence against women)

Unregulated capitalism is the uncontrolled growth of investment wealth. For example, banks are able to charge 20% on credit card debt because there are no regulations to limit them. When you hear people talking about the 1% they are talking As wealth flows up the social system to a small number of people, poverty presses down on the masses. When people cannot meet their own survival needs, violence rates go up and the most vulnerable of citizens, women and children and other marginalized peoples, suffer most. See: Why are we afraid of naming and controlling capitalism? 

(and what does that have to do with violence against women)

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years, often ascribed to ‘Reganomics’ under U.S President, Ronald Regan. Think Regan, Thatcher, Harris and Harper, leaders who ascribe to a neo-liberal agenda that includes the privatization of public services, defunding and austerity - all of which combine to press down on the most vulnerable people. Indigenous peoples and single moms with kids are our poorest citizens.

The effects can be clearly seen as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. Neo-liberalism supports unregulated capitalism as the expression of a ‘free market’ that will self-regulate. The economic crash in 2008 revealed the widespread and ongoing corruption that has followed from neo-liberal ideology and unregulated capitalism. Neo-liberalism ignores gender inequality and social injustice and can be seen in policies that neutralize the language of gender based violence. See: Corporate Watch: keeping corporations accountable 

The ecological framework (World Health Organization)

The ecological framework is based on evidence that no single factor can explain why some people or groups are at higher risk of interpersonal violence, while others are more protected from it. This framework views interpersonal violence as the outcome of interaction among many factors at four levels—the individual, the relationship, the community, and the societal.

See: Violence Prevention Alliance: ecological approach to interpersonal violence  


Participants at the 2015 BBWON Fall Forum called again on VAWCCs to support the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations  with tangible actions.

VAWCCs can take important steps to support these calls to action by educating ourselves and our member agencies. Every VAWCC member should be aware of the issues specific to Indigenous peoples. A PowerPoint presentation has been created for VAWCCs as an introduction to issues and links to resources. 

The TRC Spent six years travelling Canada to hear from Aboriginal people taken from their families as children and placed in residential schools. Over 6000 witnesses and survivors told their stories.

The focus on truth determination was intended to lay the foundation for reconciliation. Now that we know, what can we do?

  • Educate ourselves – understand our shared history
  • Build relationships in our communities
  • Respect-recognize traditional territories
  • Support Indigenous leadership
  • Participate and/or host Sisters In Spirit vigils on Oct 4
  • Support the Aboriginal VAW Strategic Framework
  • Invite local indigenous leaders to join VAWCCs