Recently, societal attention to sexual violence has finally generated a number of reactions and strategies to deal with this significant social issue. With the #MeToo, #TimesUP and the Alberta #IBelieveYou campaign led by AASAS is shining a light on the issue of sexual violence, and encouraging survivors to speak out and for perpetrators to come forward. The #calgarygetsconsent campaign launched by the Calgary Sexual Health Centre is focused on raising awareness and providing education about consent by initiating a community-wide conversation. While Alberta has made some gains by the government investing in strategies that target attitudes, norms and behaviours we must also be dismantling systems and structures that reinforce violence against women.
In 2011, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence supported the Government of Alberta in the development of its new strategic framework Family Violence Hurts Everyone: A Framework to End Family Violence in Alberta. A key strategy identified within the framework was the development of a sexual violence action plan for Alberta.
AASAS and Shift recognize the importance of undertaking a similar, parallel process for addressing sexual violence; and in 2011, a partnership was formed. Together, AASAS and Shift released a report titled: Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence: Preliminary Research. The intention of the report was to bolster discussions with the Government of Alberta regarding primary prevention of sexual violence, and to support the development of a sexual violence action plan for Alberta.
In 2013, AASAS and Shift released another report titled: Surveying the Landscape: Sexual Violence Plans from Around the World. This report presents an analysis of sexual violence plans from around the world. While there are many variations among the plans, a number of similar themes emerged:
- Enhancing collaboration and co-operation among systems;
- Raising public awareness;
- Changing societal attitudes and norms;
- Implementing school-based education; and,
- Improving policy and legislation.
In 2017, Shift released: State of the Science Brief: Programmatic Approaches to Sexual Violence Prevention and Risk Reduction in Post-Secondary Settings. This report was written to support the development of the provincial action plan, by reporting on effective programmatic approaches to sexual violence prevention and risk reduction in post-secondary environments (social norms/bystander-based approaches and risk reduction). The report can be used by practitioners and policy-makers to support a collective understanding of how to move forward to address campus-based sexual violence in Alberta, and improve the well-being of young people across the province.
Moving forward, Shift will continue to partner with organizations and governments to promote healthy relationships, advance gender equality and equity and to promote healthy gender identities. It is going to take all of us to stop sexual violence.