Everything we know about gender violence in one new website

Canada's minister of status of women, Maryam Monsef, was in London Monday to announce a new centralized website about gender-based violence, as well as $5 million in research funding to fill gaps in existing information.

The federal portal comes with $5 million to research gaps in existing knowledge around violence

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef was in London Monday to announce an online gender-based violence knowledge centre and a $5 million call for proposals for researchers studying the topic. (Robert Short/CBC)

A newly launched government website is bringing together all federal programs, research and information related to gender-based violence across Canada, in an effort to reduce confusion and duplication of services and pilot projects.

The Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef was in London Monday for the announcement calling it a "big deal" for researchers and women's advocates. 

"It means we get to real change much faster," said Monsef. She pointed to a Yukon-based project involving men and boys to curb gender-based violence that's yielded good results but hasn't yet been available for other regions to imitate.

"With the knowledge centre, that information will be at a one-stop shop not just for Canadian advocates and researchers, but for leaders around the world to access."

Push for research evidence

The website announcement comes as Statistics Canada embarks on three national surveys around sexual harassment and gender-based violence in public and private spaces, colleges and universities and the workplace. 

Rounding out that initiative is a $5 million call for research proposals in areas of gender-based violence that haven't been well-studied, Monsef said Monday.

The minister said she's particularly keen to hear from researchers studying marginalized groups, and those studying new forms of violence, such as cyberbullying. 

"The last time we collected any sort of knowledge close to this was in the mid '90s, and since then the nature of violence has changed," she said.

Monsef said she hopes to receive research proposals from those studying under-studied communities, such as LGBTQ2 people and Francophones living in English majority areas. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

The push for better research comes at an important time in the #MeToo movement, according to Barb MacQuarrie, community director of Western's Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children.

Although the movement has allowed many survivors the opportunity to talk about sexual violence and harassment, MacQuarrie said not everyone has been given an equal chance to speak.

"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. We haven't at all," she said.

"I think that we need to look at the various ways we marginalize people and give them less voice, and know at the same time those are the same people most vulnerable to violence."

Economic impact of violence

A study out of Western University this month found that more than 50 per cent of Canadian domestic homicide victims between 2010 and 2015 were vulnerable, and either identified as Indigenous, immigrant, refugee or a young person. 

An investment in gender-based violence research will also help reduce the cost that intimate partner violence exacts on the Canadian economy, which Monsef estimated at around $12 billion a year.

"We know that in eight years we can add $150 billion to our community when women are participating equally," she said. "But how's she supposed to go out there and ace that job interview if she has a black eye?"

"Initiatives like this work to prevent that violence from happening in the first place and provide healing to those affected."

The call for research proposals is open now, and will remain so until February 6.