Advocacy and Social Action
The YWCA Lethbridge & District Policy Platform guides the advocacy work of our organization. Our work is focused on projects relating to violence against women, housing, economic well-being, health and well-being, education and training, the environment, and women’s leadership. The Policy Platform approved by the Board of Directors, (January 17, 2013) reflects the views of our membership and works to serve the mission the YWCA.
Violence Against Women and Girls
- Need for a national plan to end violence against women.
- Continued need for investment in counselling, women’s emergency shelters, second stage to address the impacts of violence against women.
- Continued investment in services and programs that support children who witness violence.
- Training, education and awareness campaigns are essential tools to change attitudes, mitigate risk and end violence against women.
- Create and fund safe spaces for women and girls to congregate explore beliefs and gain strength.
- Continued support of provincial and national campaigns such as YWCA Week Without Violence, December 6: National Day of Remembrance, Prevention of Family Violence Month, International Day of the Girl Child, and International Women’s Day etc.
Local Trends and Issues
- Access to safe and affordable housing in Lethbridge is limited. The needs of women impacted by issues of violence, poverty, racial discrimination and mental health issues increases the likelihood of periodic and chronic conditions of homelessness.
- YWCA Lethbridge & District is proud to be part of the City of Lethbridge’s 5-year plan to end homelessness by 2014. As an active member of Social Housing In Action (SHIA) the YWCA serves to advocate for the needs of women, children and youth and their unique housing needs. Second stage shelters, youth support and housing for women with complex needs are critical to ending homelessness.
- Additional advocacy is required to ensure funding of support services, quality safe and affordable housing is acquired and inclusion of all citizens is a reality.
- While employment rates for Canadian women are on par with that of men, women represent 70% of part-time employees (primarily due to lack of affordable child care).
- Two-thirds of all Canadians working for minimum wage are adult women. 36% of mother-led families still have incomes below the poverty line and 43% of children living in a low-income family live with a single, female parent. Aboriginal women earn an average of $16,600 a year. This is less than half of the average annual salary for non-Aboriginal men in Canada.
- Offering the bare minimum under federal law for maternity and parental leave benefits, having the most pronounced wage gap between men and women in the country and being the only province where there is no government advocate for women’s issues, Alberta has been declared the “most unequal province in Canada.” (Parkland Institute, 2010)
Health and Well-Being
Heath Across a Lifespan
- Good health begins in childhood continues through adolescence, child bearing years and beyond. The need for access to health services increases with age.
- Women are more likely than men to assume roles as caregivers for children and aging parents. If women become sick, the family and children lose this source of stability and support.
- Proper nutrition is a major factor in establishing good health. Access to affordable, healthy food allows for a higher standard of health and well-being for women and families.
- As women tend to live longer than men, women represent a growing proportion of all older people. Policies are needed in relation to health financing, tax reform and access to formal employment and associated pension and social protection, and to the provision of residential and community care.
Education and Training
- Early childhood and preschool education that is not for profit and accessible to all.
- Even with the same education women are still making less than their male counterparts, therefore we advocate for quality outcomes for higher education, where females will gain earning equality.
- We support the education system as having a role in preparing young women to meet a diversity of live challenges; we advocate for an education curriculum that encourages civic engagement, fosters in-depth understanding of sexual health issues and provides financial literacy.
Inequality: Women face different environmental challenges than men. As household managers and primary childcare providers, they are impacted more strongly by environmental issues in their daily lives.
Household Environment: Women need additional education and stronger product regulations in Canada to care for their family’s environment. Products are available which contain toxins and chemicals that are poorly regulated. Poorer households are more likely to be impacted by these products.
Work Environment: Recycling programs and environmental initiatives are primarily promoted by women in the workplace.
Climate Change: During natural disasters, women count higher in the death toll and yet have limited power in managing climate change policies.
Government: Women’s experiences and knowledge of their environment make them advocates for positive change on environmental issues, but they are still misrepresented and have less power than men to implement changes.
- We need to promote and insist upon balanced representation at all aspects of life including all levels of government, in education, sports, media and employment.
- Through programming, public awareness and education systems, promote the scrutiny of media and advocate for fair reporting on the issues.
- Continue to challenge established gender norms.
- Work to promote women in every election at every level of government.
- Provide coaching and mentorship to women and girls regarding education, employment and career advancement.
- Ensure young women continue to have a voice in the YWCA.
- Promote the use of gender based analysis on public policy, actions and legislation.
Invite to Action
Maya Angelou once stated “each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it – possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women!”
Join the YWCA – by adding your voice we create a chorus that provokes thoughts, action and waves of change.
We have tried to represent the information respectfully and by acknowledging the sources used. Direct quotes were referenced in the document; however in the event that one was missed, we extend our sincere apologies.
- Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail, Canadians Among the Best educated in the World. Published Tuesday Sept 7, 2010 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadians-among-besteducated-in-the-world-report/article4326151/
- Canadian Women’s Foundations (nd). Retrieved from: http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-aboutviolence
- Conference board of Canada, Women in Senior Management: Where Are They? August 2011
- Equal Voice. http://www.equalvoice.ca/mission.cfm
- Gender and Environment: A Guide to the Integration of Gender Aspects in the OSCE’s Environmental Projects. Retrieved January 9, 2013 from http://www.osce.org/gender/36360
- Social Housing In Action (S.H.I.A.). (2009) “Bringing Lethbridge Home” 5 year Community Plan to End Homelessness 2009 – 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from http://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here
- Statistics Canada (2009). Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2010000/aftertoc-aprestdm2-eng.htm
- The Alberta Secretariat For Action on Homelessness. (2008). A Plan for Alberta: Ending Homelessness in 10 Years. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from http://ywca.org.au/sites/ywca.org.au
- Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Division. September 2010. Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective. (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 81-604-X).
- UN Women (2011). United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Retrieved from: http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/
- We Are Equals. http://www.weareequals.org/downloads/EQUALS_Manifesto_FINAL.pdf
- Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 89-503-X, by Martin Turcotte, December 2011
- World YWCA website (“Our Priorities”). www.worldywca.org
- National Networks on Environment and Women’s Health. www.nnewh.org
- www.unwomen.org (Climate Change and the Environment)
- YWCA Australia Policy Platform (2007- 2009)
- YWCA Canada. (n.d.) Women’s Economic Security. Retrieved May 3, 2011 from http://ywcacanada.ca/en/pages/advocacy/priorities/economic.
- YWCA Lethbridge and District Annual Report (2011/2012)