Terms of Reference
Through collaboration we will develop coordinated, proactive and effective approaches to assist and empower women who have experienced violence against women in York Region.
The York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee will provide a leadership role on the issues of violence against women in York Region by:
- advocating for effective, accessible and comprehensive community based supports and a coordinated service system that responds to the growing needs of York Region.
- engaging in a process for information sharing, discussion and collaborative decision making.
- promoting a greater flexibility and responsiveness of services/supports to meet the expressed needs of women who experience violence.
STATEMENT OF BELIEFS and DEFINITIONS
The York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee holds the following beliefs:
- The safety of women and their children is paramount.
- Women who have experienced violence are never responsible for the perpetrator’s behaviour.
- Perpetrators of violence against women must be held accountable for their actions.
- Existing power imbalances perpetuate violence against women.
- It is vital that a community response recognizes the complex nature of violence against women and acknowledges both the common issues for and unique situations of women.
For an historic and global context, it is important to acknowledge that for generations, women have experienced personal, social, and institutional abuse, discrimination, and oppression. Women often receive less education, have less access to information, earn less money and have less input into government and governance structures. Women are disadvantaged as a group and disempowered individually. This is as a result of a male dominant world view, a system of beliefs or practices that explicitly or implicitly asserts that men are superior to women. This world view promotes a pattern of male aggression and female submission. The personal and social context of each woman's life will influence, if not determine, the particular barriers and disadvantages she faces throughout her life.
Violence and abuse against women and children reflects and reinforces the power imbalance between men and women. It is an expression of women's disadvantaged status, and a coercive tool used to maintain a circumstance of male dominance and control.
Violence and abuse serves to control women and protect male power, as evidenced by the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims are women while offenders/perpetrators are most often, though not exclusively, men.
This Committee is comprised of organizations and individuals committed to challenging and eradicating the beliefs, values, systems and structures that support and perpetuate sexism and violence against women.
- The Committee defines violence against women as the use of power to control the thoughts, feelings and actions of women.
- This misuse of power can take many forms that include sexual, physical, emotional, ritual, spiritual, psychological and/or financial.
- Violence against women occurs regardless of socio-economic status, class, age, sexual orientation, occupation, mental health status, citizenship status, ability, spiritual practices, language, race, culture or ethnicity.
The York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee is a feminist organization and believes that working within an anti-oppression and anti-racist framework is essential to our work. Specifically, the Committee is dedicated to working within an environment that facilitates empowerment and choice. The Committee adopts and promotes a feminist, gender-based analysis of violence against women.
- For purposes of the Committee’s work, feminism means:
- Actively working to promote the equality of all persons
- Actively working to promote equal access to education, resources, justice,
and power for all persons
- Respecting and valuing the contributions and abilities of women
- Respecting and valuing individual differences and diversity among women
- Actively working to change the attitudes and actions that oppress, exploit, abuse, and/or devalue women.
- For purposes of the Committee’s work, anti-oppression means challenging and opposing discriminatory practices , beliefs and the systematic mistreatment of a group of people based on race, gender, age, group, ability, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status as a basis for inherent inferiority resulting in systemic and/or physical or verbal mistreatment.
- For purposes of the Committee’s work anti-racism means challenging opinions and actions that contribute to racism in all its forms as expressed in policies, procedures, practices and behaviour.