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Home / News / Female philanthropists launch Women United in the Alberta Capital Region
March 8, 2022
Women unite on International Women’s Day
Though Alberta has long been considered one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada, many Albertans are slipping into poverty — especially women. Nearly two-thirds of low-wage earners in the Edmonton region are women.
This growing issue is what drew a group of passionate supporters of United Way of the Alberta Capital Region to the local Women United initiative, which focuses on ensuring all female-identifying individuals have full and equal access to resources and opportunities.
“Women you see every day – store clerks and childcare providers, seniors and students, Indigenous and immigrant women — are facing systemic barriers to income stability for themselves and their children,” says Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji, co-chair of Women United, Alberta Capital Region.
“Whether they’re encountering food insecurity, racism in their job search, a lack of affordable childcare, domestic violence, or a gendered wage gap, there are multiple factors affecting their economic stability and preventing them from reaching their full potential. We want to do something about that.”
An inclusive international movement of more than 70,000 women and allies, Women United works to support and empower marginalized and vulnerable female-identifying neighbours through mentorship, mental wellness advocacy, and programs provided by United Way’s partner frontline community agencies.
“By combining our collective power — financial resources, talents, and connections — with United Way’s network, not only are we building authentic relationships with community-minded women and allies, we’re also actively working to break the cycle of poverty affecting women and families in our region. When women thrive, the community thrives.” says co-chair Regina Davis.
Girls Friendship Togetherness Community Concept
United Way supports many programs and initiatives in the Edmonton area that are helping women at risk of falling into or currently experiencing poverty. Here are just four examples.
An initiative led by United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and 16 community partners
Empower U is a financial empowerment initiative promoting financial education, asset building, and financial coaching to address complex financial barriers affecting individuals living in poverty. Primarily geared toward women who are living in low-income situations, participants may also have experienced domestic violence, been affected by sexual exploitation, or been in contact with the criminal justice system. Through Empower U, women build their confidence and financial literacy, and they connect with and gain support from others to meet their financial goals.
The Family Violence Prevention Program
Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society
The Family Violence Prevention Program provides support services to families impacted by family violence in the Fort Saskatchewan area. The program provides a wide range of support including sourcing affordable housing, accessing emergency funding, and getting basic needs like food, furniture, and clothing. Other services include individual and group support, risk assessment and safety planning, advocacy, court support, referral, education, and awareness. This wrap-around approach helps women reclaim power and control in their lives, find healthy ways to manage stress, and teaches them how to cope with trauma even while they are still experiencing it.
“FVPPC has counselled me on days I didn’t think I could make it through,” says one woman fleeing an abusive relationship. “Personally, I could see how this program can save lives — from preventing ongoing violent domestic situations to the prevention of suicide. I’m extremely grateful.”
Transitions to Success
Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
Transitions to Success is an employment program that supports women living in poverty by teaching the skills needed to secure sustainable employment and achieve their career goals. Over 16 weeks, participants develop life and employment skills through workshops.
For one mother experiencing addiction, Transitions to Success taught her skills in stress management, boundaries, communication, and how to find work-life balance. Most of all it helped to keep her sober and connect with other Indigenous women experiencing similar situations. Today she is building a better life for herself and her children.
Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre (WEAC) Transformation
WEAC Transformation provides a consultation team to bring housing-focus supports to women who are in crisis and experiencing homelessness at WEAC, a 24/7 emergency shelter. The multi-disciplinary team supports each woman to develop her individualized shelter exit strategy to move into her own home. These strategies include stabilizing health and setting up supports to live in housing for the long-term.
The shelter represents a safe space where women have access to resources and tools to manage their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It is an environment where participants experience support and validation of their traumatic experiences in a person-centred, harm-reduced, and inclusive way. And for a woman who feels she is at her lowest point, having access to these supports help her feel seen, valued, and find hope for the future.
The Women United initiative is actively recruiting women and allies to join them in their efforts to create meaningful social change for female-identifying people in the Edmonton area. Learn more about how you can get involved.