What is Femicide?

Femicide PictureWhile not a common term in the public domain, femicide is recognized internationally by the United Nations as the most extreme form of violence and discrimination against women and girls. Its definition varies across disciplines and world regions, but broadly captures the killing of females, primarily by men, because they are female.

The term’s relevance in the Canadian context continues to emerge perhaps most clearly in 1989 with the killing of 14 women in what is referred to now as the Montreal Massacre – an event that continues to bring Canadians together on Dec. 6 every year to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Despite this, the term ‘femicide’ continues to be rarely used despite its utility in underscoring how women are often targeted and killed because they are women, often within the context of intimacy and/or sexual violence.

In an effort to build knowledge about this phenomenon, this section of the website describes the evolution of the term, identifies some of the common types of femicide identified in prior research and highlights trends and patterns in femicide in Canada.

As the Observatory work unfolds, other important information about femicide will be included here such as the explanations/causes of femicide, risk and protective factors for femicide, and the responses to and impacts of femicide. In addition, the way in which other social identities interact with ‘being female’ to compound the risk for some women and girls will be discussed.