Words Matter

Media Release
November 30, 2016
For Immediate Release

There’s been a lot of discussion this month around the struggles women in politics face both in Alberta and across the border. At a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, the ACWS Board voted unanimously to make Sandra Jansen, MLA from Calgary North West, an honorary member in recognition of the light she has shone on the dark reality of how women are treated in politics – and the courage that it takes to address it. 

Rarely does violence erupt from nowhere, it usually starts with words.  Not harmless words, but put downs that often progress to daily humiliation.  These insults can come from a loved one, your boss or in the case of Sandra Jansen, your colleagues and fellow citizens. Unfortunately, Ms. Jansen’s experience is not new; far too many career women and politicians have tolerated mean-spirited and misogynistic language on the job.  

ACWS Board President, Brenda Brochu, states, “This month a courageous woman stood up to those who would oppress her.  She courageously revealed to her colleagues, her constituents, and the electorate, squarely in front of the camera lens, the malicious comments communicated to her.  She is an excellent role model for any woman or girl who has been subjected to bullying, verbal abuse and threats to her safety.”  It is for this reason, as we start 16 days of Activism to end gender based violence, that the ACWS board made the decision to award Ms. Jansen an honorary membership.

ACWS awards an honorary membership to individuals who have made outstanding and long-term contributions in assisting women and families in abusive situations, and to the activities of the ACWS. Our vision is a world free from violence and abuse.  Ms. Jansen’s courage to stand up and name the abuse she faced so that “our daughters don’t forgo the political area all together” is an important message.  As Minister of Children and Family Services, Minister Jansen was supportive of women’s shelters and ensured that funding was designated for women’s shelters for renovations and repair.

“In this instance, the bullies have met their match.  Through strength of character and fortitude, Ms. Jansen is teaching all of us how to stand-up and not be a bystander to this inexcusable conduct anymore.   We would like to extend an invitation for members of the legislature, as well as leadership candidates to take our Leading Change training, “said Jan Reimer, Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

Leading Change’s goal is to get to the root of gender based violence, to understand it, and to recognize what can be done to stop it. Within that vision is the belief that every one of us has a role to play in Leading Change, in making a difference in their family, their community, their workplace to address the underlying causes of violence against women and girls

Leading Change educates, equips and empowers training partners from Canadian Football League teams in Alberta, the Edmonton Police Service School Resource Officers, and many others."

As public figures, politicians are already leaders around this issue. The question is, what are they role modeling? What values, attitudes and language are they supporting or challenging? We believe that all of us can help lead our communities towards an end to gender based violence and it starts with what we are willing to accept as “a normal part of being a woman” and what we stand up to and deem unacceptable.

Our training offers an opportunity to participants to explore the gendered nature of violence, the powerful role that engaged bystanders can take and how our language, attitudes and values affect how violence plays out in our world. We provide information as well as tools to help build common understanding around the power we all have to Lead Change.

Contact Information for Scheduling Interviews

Janet Martin, ACWS Communications Advisor


780-456-7000 Ext 231