The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society is asking the public to stand up today on behalf of International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today and remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding it, according to Michelle Novkowski, executive director of Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society.
“It’s great to have a day, but it’s going to take more than a day to change attitudes about women,” said Novkowski. “It’s important to stop victim-blaming. We are seeing a lot of that around sexual assault. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society’s mission is to end poverty and to work for equality for all and ultimately work towards ending violence. The society tries to accomplish that by providing programs such as victims’ services, trauma counseling, and prevention programs for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Unfortunately, the programs are underfunded.
“Our services are limited and underfunded in Kelowna, in particular when it comes to sexual assault and sexual abuse,” said Novkowski. “We do a lot of prevention work as well in the schools and that’s underfunded as well, so we can only do two or three schools at a time.”
In effort to increase funding for the programs, The Hotbox Yoga Kelowna is helping the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society by shininig a spotlight on support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Hotbox hopes that by hosting one of their donation karma classes for this cause they will help the Elizabeth Fry Society hit their goal to fund 100 trauma counseling sessions by donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to the #SPEAKOUT campaign for survivors of sexual violence.
Those interested can join the Hotbox’s karma teacher Gloria on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 2-3 p.m. for a warm flow class to support this cause.
Elizabeth Fry Society encourages people to donate but to also take a minute to reflect on how to express kindness and treat other people gently. The society also wants to make it known that Elimination of Violence Against Women Day is meant for all women, including those who identify as women, whether it’s trans women, mixed-gender women or however one may identify.
Those who wish to donate and support survivors locally can do so through the Elizabeth Fry Programs at www.coefs.ca .