Women Making Change in the Edmonton Region - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Women Making Change in the Edmonton Region

November 7, 2022


Women and allies passionate about making a difference in the lives of marginalized women in the Edmonton region gathered last month at Wonder of Women to celebrate the launch of United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s newest initiative, Women United.

Women United was born out of the desire to address the specific and unique challenges faced by women and girls experiencing poverty, while also building a strong network of people who believe in the power of women and want to connect more deeply with community issues.

Women bore the brunt of pandemic ripple effects

One of United Way’s agency partners is The Family Centre, which provides a variety of mental health and family supports across Edmonton. The Wonder of Women guest speaker Pauline Smale, CEO of The Family Centre, shared how her agency saw first-hand the impacts of the pandemic and its ripple effects on women and their families.

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us; however, we know that it also exacerbated income, racial, gender and age inequities, food and housing insecurities, and increased mental health and addiction issues. Women by far have been significantly affected. The wage disparity, lack of work, lost work and to put it frankly, increased poverty,” Pauline shared.

“Women continue to provide the lion’s share of home duties. Eighty percent of single-parent families are headed by mothers. And women are three times more likely to provide long-term care for their parents,” said Pauline.

“Not to put too fine a point on it, but we are also more likely to be exploited, abused, and live in poverty throughout our lifetime.”

Women make 71 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make – and that number drops to 59 cents for racialized women. Women may also face barriers of racism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression.

“The human rights of Indigenous women in Canada are in crisis. Indigenous women in Canada today are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be a victim of murder and are much more likely to experience poverty,” said Regina Davis, co-chair of Women United.

“We need to unite in our purpose to lift up and care for our sisters … to create a world where everyone is safe and empowered.”

Supporting women in need since 1941

Since its beginnings as Community Chest of Greater Edmonton in 1941, United Way and our supporters have been working together to bridge the gaps in our community to make sure no one was left behind.

In fact, during the Second World War, The Family Centre began working with United Way to support women who were left to raise families and manage the trauma of war.

“Today, we are here to provide mental health supports and manage the trauma and fallout of the pandemic,” said Pauline.

In building a network of women and allies, Women United aims to empower women and girls in our community who are at-risk or already living in poverty. And by leveraging our collective financial resources, talents, and connections, and by tapping into United Way’s network of local expertise, we can break the cycle of poverty for women in our region.

Women United aims to raise $240,000 by the end of March next year so we can help at least 1,500 vulnerable women and girls in our community.

“We have an opportunity to build each other up and give to those that need a hand up. It is an honour to work alongside you to change the future of so many people right here in Edmonton,” Pauline remarked.

“The wonder of women never ceases to amaze me.”

United Way is grateful to the Wonder of Women event presenters, in-kind sponsors and vendors, including: Cara Morin of Dancing Cree, Pauline Smale of The Family Centre, Qualico Commercial, Burke Group, Justine Ma, PlanIt Sound, Arisha Wickramasinghe Photography, Mercers Catering, Sosyal Scoops, Buco, Kasandra Miller from Alternative & Holistic Health Service, and Danica the DJ.