Artists create timely reminders about the dangers of gender-based violence

In the early days of the pandemic, Juniper Park\TBWA and the Canadian Women’s Foundation introduced a new initiative to help women trapped at home with an abusive partner.

It can be difficult for those living with an abusive partner to ask for help because their abuser often monitors their devices to ensure they aren’t sharing what is happening at home.

“Signal for Help,” was a simple hand-gesture that could be silently shared on a video call—hand facing the camera, fingers extended with the thumb tucked into the palm and then bringing the fingers down over the thumb. By making the signal, a woman could signal that she needed help.

“This new reality requires new methods of communication to help those facing gender-based violence,” said CWF president and CEO Paulette Senior at the time.

The idea earned international media attention and the signal was shared worldwide. An ad campaign here in Canada also helped push widespread awareness.

Now, a resurgence of coronavirus in much of the world and the introduction of new lock-down measures, could bring with it a resurgence in the numbers of women looking for help to escape a violent relationship. Because of that, and to coincide with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the agency and CWF have come up with a new way to remind people about the importance of the Signal for Help.

Sixteen artists have created their own interpretation of the signal, with their work being shared on social media with a prompt to tag five friends to raise awareness of about gender based violence.

“It’s clear that most people in Canada care about the issue of gender-based violence in the pandemic,” said Senior. “With the onset of a second wave, we want everyone who sees the signal to know how to safely respond. This ‘Art Share’ initiative is an easy way for people to raise awareness about the signal using the digital tools many of us use every day to stay in touch with colleagues and loved ones.”

David Brown