During the COVID-19 crisis, our commitment to advocating for gender equity and justice is as strong as ever. The pandemic has dramatically highlighted the deep inequalities in our social, economic, and justice systems. As part of our efforts to transform these systems, we are amplifying calls to action from other organizations and community groups. If you’re looking for ways to contribute during the pandemic, or just trying to stay up to date with what’s happening in our communities, here are some calls to action for you to consider.

 

Access to Health Care
Economic Security
Gender-Based Violence
Justice for Those Who Are Criminalized
Rights of Parents, Children, and Youth

 

COVID-19 Activism in the Spotlight

May 8 – Supporting Sex Workers

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the needs of many communities who experience systemic marginalization are significant. This is certainly true for sex workers, who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and who face heightened risks during this time.

Many sex workers have experienced an abrupt loss of income, yet they are unable to access government financial supports and income replacement like the CERB and provincial income supports. Those who are able to work—or who have no choice but to work—report limitations in their ability to negotiate wages, reduced autonomy and agency and, as a result, increased violence, as well. Trans and racialized women make up a large percentage of people engaging in sex work and face further stigma and harm during this public health crisis.

Closures and changes in services and programs mean that many sex workers are unable to access housing and other amenities they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. The ability to socially distance and self-isolate is not accessible to all groups equally.

Frontline community organizations that provide support to sex workers have called on the government to provide cash-based support and make efforts to reach those who may not have identification, employment records, or bank accounts but are in critical need of financial support.

Sex workers cannot be left out of government responses to this pandemic and need immediate supports.

 

 

April 25 – Decarceration

The ability to quarantine is a privilege many people do not have. This is especially true for those who are caught in the prison system during this pandemic.

Many people in Canadian prisons live in close proximity to others and often have pre-existing health conditions. Despite the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from this disease, people in prison have mostly been left out of the provincial and federal public health responses.

As anticipated by grassroots groups, there have now been multiple reported COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons across the country. These community advocates continue to call on the governments to take immediate action to protect people in prisons. Protections should include the depopulation of prisons and the release of prisoners wherever possible. For those who cannot be released, activists have called for basic protections, including free soap, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies.

The lack of government action is particularly concerning given the close links between marginalization and incarceration. Not only are Indigenous women vastly overrepresented in prison populations, but racialized, trans, and gender non-binary people are far more likely to experience harm from poor prison conditions. These harms include violence, harassment, and a lack of access to health care.

 

 

 

Black and white line drawing of a diverse group of people