CAW Debuts Innovative Workplace Program at the United Nations to Tackle Domestic Violence

March 6, 2013, 10:00 AM EST

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The CAW will be presenting its pioneering Women's Advocate program that helps women suffering from domestic violence seek help, while at work, at an event part of the United Nations 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women now underway in New York City.

CAW Women's Director Julie White will be speaking as part of a panel this afternoon about the impact of domestic violence in the workplace, an event organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in tandem with the UN session.

White was invited to present on behalf of the union by the ILO, recognizing the CAW's innovative at-work program. White is participating in CSW57 along with other CAW representatives as part of an official Canadian trade union delegation, organized by the Canadian Labour Congress.

"Violence remains a significant barrier to women's equality and we know it has devastating consequences in the lives of women, children, families and Canadian society as a whole," said CAW Women's Director Julie White.

"Workplaces though present a unique opportunity for women to get information on how to access domestic violence services in privacy, without the immediate fear of retaliation from their abusive partner. Where public policy makers and governments have ignored this enduring travesty, we see it as our role as a union to help end violence against women and children.  The women's advocate is one solution as part of a larger web of support."

The Women's Advocate program is an employer-paid initiative, which was first negotiated in 1993 at the major auto companies. It has since grown to 260 trained women's advocates across the country.

The Women's Advocate Program is a referral program with specially trained workplace representatives who assist women with concerns of workplace harassment, intimate partner violence or abuse. Advocates are not counsellors but rather assist women with workplace supports and community resources needed to leave a violent relationship.

 "We believe there's a role for the women's advocate in every workplace in the country - women of all ages, incomes, education-levels, orientations and ethnic backgrounds suffer from violence and abuse," said White. "It is not a problem limited to any one group. We're working every day to expand the program - we know the need is there."

On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her partner. And on any given day, there are more than 3,000 women (along with their 2,500 children) are living in emergency shelters, to flee domestic violence, according to recent Statistics Canada data.

The Women's Advocate program, although geared towards women, is also accessible for men, and has become a frequent resource for those struggling with mental health issues or may have concerns about the domestic violence in the lives of loved ones.

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