Signal for Help Overview and Timeline

Disaster situations often lead to a surge in gender-based violence. Sadly, the pandemic is no different. Self isolation and stay-at-home orders necessitated by the virus confined many to abusive homes and partners, fueling a rise in gender-based violence cases around the world.

When spoken or written cues are not available to us if we need help, there is no way to ask for it. The Canadian Women’s Foundation responded by creating Signal for Help: a simple one-handed gesture someone can use on a video call to silently show they need help and want someone to safely check in with them, without leaving a digital trace.

A signal and campaign that originated in Canada, quickly spread around the globe, showcasing that when called to action, we as people want to know how to show up, we want to be useful, and help the people in our lives.

Scroll down to view some of the activity and engagement since launch.

APRIL 14th, 2020
Launched via instructional social media posts (#SignalforHelp) showcasing the two-step process. The posts drove to a resource page on the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s website which featured a downloadable social toolkit and FAQs.
Federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef shares the post
Followed by Julie S. Lalonde, Tara Slone, Dr. Jill Andrew, snd Margaret Atwood
ELLE article goes live
APRIL 20th, 2020
Signal for Help mentioned in NHK Japan article
APRIL 22nd, 2020
Refinery29 article goes live
APRIL 28th, 2020
Women’s Funding Network, the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls, launches the initiative in the US
Vogue covers the Signal for Help
APRIL 29th, 2020
Victims' rights attorney, Carrie Goldberg, shares the Signal for Help on IG
Celebrity actor Amanda Seyfried reshares
Indonesian outlet Inside Manila post goes viral on Facebook
MAY 11th, 2020
In partnership with Fundacion Mujeres, Signal for Help launches in Spain
MAY 13th, 2020
PSA goes live on the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s social channels, and is shown on TV networks across Canada
Women’s Funding Network President and CEO Elizabeth Barajas-Roman interviews with NowThis about Signal for Help
In Canada, Ontario Women shares the Signal for Help
MAY 29th, 2020
Narcity article goes live
JUNE 1st, 2020
Signal for Help is featured in Canadian Medical Association Journal article
JUNE 2nd, 2020
PSA is shared on TikTok by user @forsure7
JUNE 4th, 2020
Indian actress
Ruhi Singh releases
“That Neighbour’s Wife”
- a short film showcasing domestic violence during the pandemic and featuring the Signal for Help
Bombay Times covers Singh’s film
JUNE 6th, 2020
“Ghost of Girl Posts” shares @forsure7’s TikTok on IG
JUNE 7th, 2020
7News covers in Australia
JUNE 8th, 2020
The Sun UK covers
Billie Eilish shares
“Ghost of Girl Posts”
on IG Story
JUNE 9th, 2020
Antena3, the most popular commercial TV channel in Spain, covers, Australia’s biggest online news outlet, covers
JUNE 11th, 2020
Hailey Bieber shares
“Ghost of Girl Posts”
on IG Story
JUNE 13th, 2020
The Howard Stern Show mentions Signal for Help
South African influencer Simz Ngema shares Signal for Help
JULY 5th, 2020
Three months after launch, a Canadian survey of 1,509 individuals conducted by Maru/Blue found that 33% of Canadians said they have seen info about the signal and 96 people report seeing it used or using it directly
JULY 17th, 2020
Tropic Skincare shares the Signal for Help on social, results in mass sharing across Instagram/Twitter/Facebook
AUG 4th, 2020
Signal for Help campaign is launched in Argentina by artist Coral Campopiano
Interview with Nosotroseltrece goes live
AUG 11th, 2020
Lead by artist
Coral Campopiano,

figures and celebrities
post and publish the
Signal for Help
OCT 1st, 2020
Your Morning interview with the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Vice President of Engagement, Andrea Gunraj, goes live
OCT 10th, 2020
Signal for Help is mentioned as a tool for those in danger in Parliamentary proceedings by Maryam Monsef
OCT 13th, 2020
The.SisOfficial shares the Signal for Help on TikTok
OCT 27th, 2020
Featured in V&A Dundee’s Now Accepting Contactless exhibit
OCT 28th, 2020
Feminist shares The.SisOfficial TikTok on IG
NOV 1st, 2020
“Art Share” campaign
goes live:
16 Canadian
artists share unique
interpretations of the
signal on the Canadian
Women’s Foundation’s IG
NOV 4th, 2020
A Canadian Press story about “Art Share” goes live in The Globe and Mail
NOV 28th, 2020
Beauty brand The Body Shop shares the Signal for Help
JAN 10th, 2021
JAN 12th, 2021
Reddit community responds to Om Sayf's call for help
JAN 13th, 2021
Om Sayf confirms she is safe on BBC News Arabic
MAR 10th, 2021
Signal for Help and its meaning gain new prominence in the UK following the shocking story of Sarah Everard
MAR 15th, 2021
Sky News article goes live
Huffington Post Japan article goes live
The Independent UK shares the news
Daily Mail article goes live
With zero media dollars, Signal for Help, has created a global wave of action. Garnering over 1 billion organic impressions and organically migrating across social platforms, it was amplified by everyday users and global influencers making it a symbol in the fight against ending gender-based violence around the world. Three months after launch, a Canadian survey commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and conducted by Maru/Blue found that 33% of Canadians said they have seen info about the signal and 96 people reported they had used or seen it used directly.

It has been endorsed by women’s organizations, emergency services, governments, law enforcement, and health professionals around the globe. It was mentioned in the Canadian Medical Association Journal as a tool to help.

Signal for Help (or the Violence at Home Signal for Help) is a one-handed, silent way to ask for help over a video call.

The signal is performed by holding your hand up with your thumb tucked into your palm, then folding your fingers down, symbolically trapping your thumb in your fingers.

It was intentionally designed as a one-handed sign to make so that you can be holding your mobile phone with the other hand. Research was done prior to it’s release to make sure that it was not in conflict with any other hand signals and didn’t mean anything specific in international sign languages.