The Government of Yukon is partnering with the Yukon Status of Women Council and Northwestel to ensure that women vulnerable to violence in Yukon have safe access to cell phones and the internet during COVID-19.
The Government of Yukon will provide 325 phones with capability for voice and internet access to vulnerable women for the next four months. This will give women options to safely access the support they need.
Physical distancing and self-isolation measures mean that individuals may be required to stay in close quarters with someone who is violent. The closure of some public spaces and community service agencies has limited the ability to access safe internet connections, which are key to getting support, contacting family and friends, accessing counselling and accessing financial support. Mobile phones with internet access will help address this need.
The Yukon Status of Women Council will be working with other community partners to distribute the phones to women who do not currently have cell phone or internet access, with a focus on those who are experiencing violence or at risk of violence.
In light of COVID-19, people are acting responsibly by practising social distancing, staying home and self-isolating when needed. Although this is important, it may cause unsafe situations for people who are experiencing violence, are at risk or who need support. This program provides a way for women to access supports, connect with their loved ones and apply for emergency funding programs. I am so grateful for this partnership to make this program available to those in need.
Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate Jeanie Dendys
It is imperative that Yukon women have access to the internet - especially those living in precarious situations. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, more stringent lockdown measures will have a disproportionate impact on marginalized women. One of the only access points to basic necessities and service like money, food, medication, information - and for some, safety itself - will be through an internet or phone connection.
Director of the Yukon Status of Women Council Aja Mason
Rates of violence against women in Yukon are three times higher than the national average.
One out of three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Women make up the majority of victims of domestic violence, with LGBTQ2S+ individuals also facing elevated rates of domestic violence. During times of crisis like COVID-19, risk of gender-based violence escalates.
Yukoners can drop off working cell phones that are no longer needed to the Yukon Status of Women Council office at 308 Hanson Street in Whitehorse.
Victims of sexualized violence can call the Sexualized Assault Support Line at 1-844-967-7275.
Anyone interested in donating a phone should contact the Yukon Status of Women Council at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.