September is traditionally a time for learning and as students go back to school, we at Avalon continue to learn and grow thanks to our communities partners.

On Sept. 13 and 14, Executive Director Irene Smith attended the Nova Scotia Women’s Summit in Stellarton, N.S..

Hosted by the Pictou County Women’s Centre, the keynote speakers touched on issues of reproductive justice, access to healthcare for aging women and sexualization of young women.

One of the highlights was the speech by human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam. The Pictou-based humanitarian described the worldwide fight for women’s equality and gave a call to action to address violence against women.

“People should not think of women’s rights as a fluffy or secondary topic,” said Afshin-Jam. “Women’s rights need to be on the forefront, the top of international agendas and governmental issues.”

Irene Smith and Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Executive Director Irene Smith (L) with speaker Nazanin Afshin-Jam.

 Sexualized Violence Framework

The Women’s Summit also marked the announcement of the much-awaited Nova Scotia government committee on sexualized violence.

Stephanie McGinnis-Langley made the announcement on behalf of the Minister of Status of Women, Marilyn Moore.

As a committee within the Department of Health and Wellness, the Sexual Violence Framework committee will work to create a provincial strategy on sexualized violence. The project is in the planning stages, but over the next few months, an advisory group of community and government partners will be formed.

According to Department of Health and Wellness, the framework will:

  • reflect the needs of victims/survivors – women, children, youth, men, LGBTI and various communities
  • reflect the many roles and responsibilities within community and across government
  • address the gaps in services
  • find ways to reach out to people who are not seeking help and
  • support prevention and intervention.

The committee will be headed by Celeste Gottell, formerly of the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Avalon is thrilled to see the development of this committee and is eager to give feedback during the consultation process. This is an opportunity to improve access to sexual assault services across the province and to improve our services to various communities. We commend the Government of Nova Scotia for their leadership on the issue.

While there is still much work to be done, this is a step in the quest to ending sexualized violence.

For more information about the conference, read our social media updates.