Poverty Through Many Lenses

Poverty is an issue that affects women in unique ways in our city. These women have unique stories to share and opinions on solutions that are important to hear.

Volunteers from the Social Issues Committee organized a Poverty Through Many Lenses workshop a few weeks ago to bring together women from various walks of life. They talked about how poverty influences their day-to-day experiences and changes they’d like to see.

Many women who attended wanted an overview of work that’s already being done by individuals, agencies and government groups to reduce poverty. Luckily, Colleen and Mary from Disability Action Hall and Sue from PovertyTALKS! were there to help full us in.

Together with other organizations, the Disability Action Hall and PovertyTALKS! have contributed to a the municipal strategy that aims to address the root causes of poverty and reduce the number of Calgarians living in poverty. Spurred on by Vibrant Communities Calgary, the Enough 4 All strategy lists goals and ongoing work specific to reducing poverty.

This leads us to the key issue during discussion that night: what can you do?

It’s important to get feedback from women in the community, and women with lived experiences of poverty. Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Stand Together
    1. If you know someone who might be struggling financially, reach out a hand however you can. You have no idea how a little extra support might help get them through to the end of the month.
    2. Know your neighbour! Whether that means knocking on their door for a cup of sugar, or joining your local community association. Don’t know where to start? Try joining their Facebook group!
    3. Don’t be afraid to speak out or stand up when you see hate or oppression in action.
  1. Support Big Change
    1. Support wider systems change and target oppressive structures by starting conversations and getting women’s voices out there.
    2. Make some calls, write some letters. Women at the discussion strongly suggested that to support big change, you should contact various levels of government about issues that impact your life.
    3. Attend events. Women Together Ending Poverty is hosting a panel and group conversation on Housing as a Human Right on March 12.
    4. Stay informed. Sign up for to receive a monthly reading list on Social Issues here.
  1. Financial Empowerment
    1. Women who attended the workshop stressed the importance of a diversified economy to promote job growth.
    2. Check out Momentum for financial empowerment programs like: Manage Your Money, Improve Your Skills, and Start a Business. They’re also hosting a four-part series of financial workshops at the Women’s Centre starting February 2.
    3. Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association has a number of employment programs for immigrant women.
    4. Prospect Human Services focuses on employment programs and job matching for people who find it difficult to keep employment for various reasons.
    5. Experiencing trouble with your employer? Are they treating you unfairly, not providing your ROE, paycheque, or T4? Contact the Calgary Worker’s Resource Centre for free (403-264-8100 ext. 21).

The Social Issues Discussion Series takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. Make sure to check our workshop calendar for upcoming topics!

Blog by Amanda Aust, Women’s Centre volunteer.

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