Gender Equity Consultations for the City of Toronto

In early 2022, Aura Freedom led multiple community consultations in partnership with Social Planning Toronto to inform the Gender Equity Strategy that will be implemented by the City of Toronto. 

We consulted with a number of community partners in Toronto to ensure that their lived experiences, research, and grassroots expertise on gender-based-violence and human trafficking are an integral part of the Gender Equity Strategy for the city. 

Our community partners highlighted various ways women, girls and gender diverse people face inequality, discrimination, violence and control in Toronto. Marginalized and racialized women and girls experience added layers of discrimination and barriers to support, as well as youth in care and ones battling mental health. Moreover, colonialism, systemic racism, and homo/transphobia have created intergenerational trauma within communities, which are then targeted by traffickers and exploiters. Indigenous, Black, and other racialized women, girls and youth often lack social support, leaving room for exploitation under the guise of love, community and a better life.

Through our community consultations, we also heard about the impact of gender-based violence and exploitation in communities, and how violence against women, girls and gender diverse people is affecting every aspect of life in Toronto, from housing and food security, to mental health and addiction, to education and the economy. Therefore, we must actively work to eradicate GBV not only to advance gender equity, but to restore health and prosperity to our communities. 

Gender-based violence is a human rights abuse, although never treated as such, and the right to live free from gender-based violence is enshrined in multiple international treaties and declarations. In order to implement a successful Gender Equity Strategy in Toronto, we strongly encourage the City of Toronto to zoom out, unpack societal power imbalances and inequities, and most importantly, employ a strong anti-GBV lens that is intersectional, survivor-centric, and trauma-informed.

We also recommend the Gender Equity Strategy be central to all other planning at the city level, and not simply an afterthought.