Women have stories to tell, have experiences that can inform issues, and face barriers to equity and participation in society. At the Women’s Centre, we work to provide a space where women can openly explore different social issues that affect our communities. Together, we can bring about positive change in society.
One of the key ways that women connect at the Centre is in the Social Issues Committee. The Committee is where volunteers can research, discuss and collaborate on action items to create change.
Here are just a few of the many topics that were tackled by our members this year.
DID YOU KNOW?
- 80% of all lone-parent families are headed by women. On average, their incomes are $7,500 below the poverty line.
- 400,000 Albertans live in poverty, 25% are children.
- 140, 000 Calgarians live in poverty
- At the Women’s Centre, 60% of women identified as living in poverty in 2014.
The problem with poverty is that it does not exclusively affect one area of a woman’s life; poverty systemically limits many opportunities for a woman in society. Poverty is interconnected to many of the local issues that the Social Issues Committee discusses, some of which include:
- Safe, Affordable, Accessible Transportation. The Women’s Centre is a strong supporter of Fair Fares Calgary as they have been avidly advocating for a low-income transit pass based on a sliding scale.
- Safe, Affordable, Accessible Housing. The housing crisis in Calgary has left more than just the city’s poorest without affordable housing. This is why the Women’s Centre supports the legalization and regulation of safe secondary suites to create more housing in Calgary.
- Food Sovereignty. One of the Centre’s many Basic Needs services includes Food Bank referrals. Of the 132,469 Calgarians who accessed the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank this past year, 43% are children, 29% are single-parent households, and 38% have at least one employed person in the household. At a Social Issues meeting, we learned about local food grower initiatives, like Calgary Eats, which aims to create a sustainable and resilient food system for all Calgarians.
- Living Wage for Albertans. The hourly living wage required for Albertans to meet their basic needs is $17.29/hour, while the current minimum wage in Alberta is $10.20/hour. This means that 90,000 Calgarians work for less than a living wage, and women make up ⅔ of low-wage working in Alberta. This year, the Social Issues Committee had a presentation from Darrell Howard of Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC), where we learned about the community-driven Enough for All Poverty Reduction Strategy in partnership with the United Way and the City of Calgary.
Affordable Child care
DID YOU KNOW?
- Availability of child care spaces is at an all time low. There are 2 million children under 5 in Canada and there are only regulated child care spaces for 20% of them.
- In 2010, 87,281 Albertan preschool children with mothers in the workforce did not have access to licensed child care.
- Canada is doing poorly compared to other nations. Canada spends 0.2% of its GDP on child care while 1% is recommended.
Affordable child care is essential for women entering the workforce and, in turn, reduces poverty. This is a social issue that the Social Policy Committee has been busy researching this year and together with the Policy Committee, produced a helpful infographic to better understand the issue.
Advocates, economists, and early childhood developmental experts agree that the benefits to universal child care are three-fold: benefits to childhood development; benefits to workforce participation by mothers and women’s economic equality; and overall benefits to society and the economy.
Domestic Violence and Safety
DID YOU KNOW?
- 17% of the women who accessed the Centre in 2014 are or have been in a violent relationship.
- Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada – almost two-thirds of Calgarians are either personally affected by domestic violence or know someone who is.
Not only has the Social Issues Committee spent time researching and discussing this issue, but the Centre participated in many events concerning violence against women such as:
- Women’s Safety Walk with Sustainable Calgary
- International Women’s Day
- Valentine’s Day Women’s Memorial March
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
- Take Back the Night
Many organizations in Calgary are working on domestic violence prevention, as it is increasingly clear that a collaborative community response is necessary to end violence against women. We’re planning more workshops in the fall to talk about violence against women and preventative measures that communities can take on.
Blog written by Women’s Centre volunteer Amanda Aust.