The Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM) is a collectively run, drop-in space on campus focused on the needs of women, non-binary, trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming folks through an intersectional feminist, anti-oppressive, and sex positive framework. Our space is open to both University of Victoria students and community members, serving a large population. GEM offers access to a large variety of safer sex supplies, menstrual supplies (including FREE menstrual cups), pregnancy tests and emergency contraceptive vouchers that can be redeemed at HEART Pharmacy in the SUB.
We currently receive 95 cents from full-time undergraduate students each semester and 47.5 cents from part-time undergraduate students each semester. These student fees go towards paying our coordinator and student staff wages, supporting the services that we provide, running events, and students support, especially for those who are women, trans, non-binary, two-spirit and gender non-conforming students.
Through its various interpretations, the GEM has been a staple organization in keeping UVic activism alive; advocating for women and gender minorities to feel safe and welcome at this campus by bringing awareness to various social issues through panels, workshops and events, like SEXPO! This year has presented new and challenging obstacles for the student population, with the rising threat towards reproductive justice and gender diverse people. This has led to a sharp increase in the need for our emergency services. Compared to last year, we have seen a close to a 70% increase in the need for emergency contraceptives & pregnancy tests, we have given out nearly 10,000 condoms and various other safer sex supplies, hundreds of menstrual cups and thousands of pads and tampons.
Fee increases must be approved by students through a referendum voting process — GEM has not increased our fees since we were founded 30 years ago.