by Morinville News Staff
Alberta men’s understanding of gender equity has increased by 8 per cent over the past seven years according to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) third Men’s Attitude Survey, released Thursday.
The Leger Research survey shows Alberta men’s general understanding of gender equity rose from 18 per cent in 2012 to 26 per cent in the current survey.
The survey indicates 92 per cent of men believe that violence against women and girls is a concern to them. Of those who witnessed harassment towards women, just over two-thirds checked to see if the victim was okay, 56 per cent challenged the man engaged in harassment., and only 14 per cent reported the incident to the police.
ACWS Executive Director Jan Reimer said Alberta’s men are compassionate, concerned and capable of leading change, and while they increasingly understand the daily discrimination faced by women and girls in their lives, more is needed.
“[We] need to do more work to empower men to be engaged bystanders, taking positive action to support women and girls facing abuse and harassment,” Reimer said. “Men want to hear from their fathers and from other men about what they can do. We know from other research that these messages are most effective when they are rooted in the lived experiences of women and accountable to women’s organisations.”
While the new survey shows that 90 per cent of men believe domestic abuse can happen in any family, 73 per cent of the men surveyed found it difficult to understand why women would stay in an abusive relationship.
“This latest survey shows some very positive shifts in men’s understanding of abuse,” said Susan Paul, Associate Vice President of Leger Research, adding the lack of understanding as to why women would stay in an abusive relationship really stands out as an area where there are opportunities for shifting beliefs. “Women stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. The main one is fear for their safety and safety of their children. The most dangerous time for a woman facing abuse is when she decides to end her relationship because the risk of being murdered escalates dramatically.”
Research published last November by ACWS indicates that women are facing the highest risk of being murdered by their intimate partner in seven years.
Reimer says investing in community building, grassroots education and campaigns are paying dividends in Alberta.
“We need to harness this positive momentum and focus on expanding into every corner of Albertan society,” she said. “We need the support of all sectors of society: government, media and community if we are going to end domestic violence.”
The survey can be seen at https://acws.ca/collaborate-document/3095/view.