Government of Canada celebrates International Women's Day by making historic investment in women's movement

The Government of Canada recognizes that women's organizations are the lifeblood of the women's movement and that maintaining and growing their ability to do this important work is the most effective way to advance gender equality.(Photo: festivo)

Over 250 projects from women's and Indigenous organizations across Canada will receive funding to ensure they can continue providing essential supports to women and their families

News Release

Department for Women and Gender Equality

Women's organizations provide essential services to our communities, supporting women and girls to be financially secure, free from violence, and able to fully participate in all aspects of our economy and society. Yet for far too long they have been chronically underfunded, underestimated and undermined. The Government of Canada recognizes that women's organizations are the lifeblood of the women's movement and that maintaining and growing their ability to do this important work is the most effective way to advance gender equality.

That's why today, on International Women's Day, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality together with the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Member of Parliament for York South–Weston, announced that the government will invest in over 250 projects from women's organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women across Canada under the Capacity-building Fund. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to support a viable and sustainable women's movement across Canada.

The announcement was made at the Daniels Spectrum Artscape, where Ministers Monsef and Hussen highlighted four of the projects that will receive funding:

  • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic will receive $250,000 for Investing in Women's Rights Philanthropy, which will help the specialized legal clinic create new, creative and innovative fundraising opportunities to help the organization continue to be a force for women's rights. This increased funding will also enable improved services and outreach to isolated women who may be vulnerable or at risk of violence due to poverty, disability, geographic location, language barriers, precarious immigration, and work status.
  • Canadian Council of Muslim Women will receive $761,720 for Strengthening Capacity to empower Muslim Women and Girls, which will increase the organization's ability to apply the gender and diversity lens known as Gender-based Analysis Plus to their services. This will help the organization better identify the interconnecting challenges faced by Canadian Muslim women, and ultimately be better advocates for fair and equitable policies, programs, and services affecting Muslim women and girls.
  • DisAbled Women's Network Canada (DAWN) will receive $830,959 for DAWN Canada Capacity Grant 2019-2023, which will help the organization to advance reform, research, education, and advocacy for women and girls with disabilities or who are deaf. It will also help the organization work more effectively with its networks and partners by transferring knowledge about interconnecting issues that affect women and girls with disabilities and deaf women and girls.
  • Scarborough Women's Centre will receive $209,240 for Strategically Advancing Gender Equality (S.A.G.E.), which will help them meet the increased demands for services from the women in their community – the majority of which have at least one child, have a household income of less than $25,000, and are unemployed despite having some post-secondary education. It will also help the organization stay connected in the community, with the resources, knowledge, and support needed to empower women to achieve independence.

The funding stems from a call for proposals announced by Minister Monsef in October 2018. Other projects related to this call for proposals will be announced in the coming months.

"On International Women's Day, we celebrate the women and women's organizations breaking through barriers, and express our gratitude to those who have been doing this work for decades on little more than a shoestring budget. The women's movement across Canada has been asking for a reliable, predictable and accessible source of funds to ensure the sustainability of their work. Our government listened. With this stable and flexible funding, we are helping them scale up so they can grow and endure because we know that investing in women's organizations is the most effective way to advance gender equality. By supporting a movement that has achieved amazing results, we are growing the middle class, strengthening families and communities, and creating lasting change that benefits everyone."

—The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality

"Since we were founded in 1985, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic has assisted more than 65,000 women. In 2018 alone, the Clinic provided vital resources to more than 9,000 women in need of our support. With this federal support, we can continue to help women build lives free from violence."

—Amanda Dale, Executive Director, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

"It's our mission to support Canadian Muslim women and promote an understanding of our lived experiences through community engagement, research, public policy, and positive change. We are honored to be receiving this federal support to sustain our efforts. It is especially special to us that the announcement today was made by Canada's first Muslim federal Cabinet Minister."

—Nuzhat Jafri, Executive Director, Canadian Council of Muslim Women

"Twenty-four percent of women in Canada have a disability. With this federal support, we can continue our work to end the poverty, discrimination, and violence experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women."

—Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada

"We are grateful to be selected for this crucial funding, which will help our Centre better support women dealing with isolation, abuse, newcomer integration, emotional health, and employment challenges. This will not only help individual women but their families and communities too."

—Lynda Kosowan, Executive Director, Scarborough Women's Centre

Quick Facts

  • The theme for this year's International Women's Day is #InnovateForChange, celebrating the women and girls who are thriving in fields where they are underrepresented and who find innovative solutions to the challenges they face in their communities, their work, and the world.
  • International Women's Day is celebrated around the world, as a day to recognize women's achievements, and a call to action to advance gender equality.
  • Some populations are more likely to experience violence and may face unique barriers and challenges that put them at particular risk (Statistics Canada, 2015).
  • Gender-based violence can have lifelong impacts on an individual's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Additionally, the effects can be serious and costly. Annually, the economic impact of intimate partner violence and sexual assault is estimated to be more than $12 billion.
  • Women continue to be disproportionately affected by economic insecurity. In 2015, women in Canada earned just 88 cents for every dollar earned by men. They are also much more likely to work on a part-time basis, making up 76% of all part-time workers, with 25% of women reporting childcare responsibilities as their reason for working part-time.
  • The Women's Program at the Department for Women and Gender Equality supports eligible organizations to carry out projects to advance equality by addressing systemic barriers.

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Background

Department for Women and Gender Equality – Women's Program

One of the ways the Department for Women and Gender Equality advances gender equality in Canada is by providing funding to eligible organizations through the Women's Program. Projects are selected via calls for proposals on specific themes, as well as through a continuous intake process that allows the Women's Program to address emerging issues as they arise.

The Women's Program funds projects that address systemic barriers to women's equality in three priority areas: ending violence against women and girls; improving the economic security and prosperity of women and girls; and encouraging women and girls in leadership roles.

Capacity-building Call for Proposals

In October 2018, Minister Monsef announced a Call for Proposals under the Capacity-building Fund of the Women's Program. The objective is to fund proposals that will increase the capacity of eligible women's organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women, whose initiatives contribute to a viable women's movement in Canada that advances gender equality. Funding will increase the ability of organizations to grow, meet the increasing demands for their services, and continue to work collectively to address gender equality issues. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to help support a viable and sustainable women's movement across Canada.

Projects

Today's announcement profiled four projects selected for federal funding:

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

Project title: Investing in Women's Rights Philanthropy

The project will increase the sustainability of Canada's only gender-based violence legal clinic. It will create new, creative and innovative fundraising initiatives to help the organization continue to be a force for women's rights. This increased funding will allow the organization to increase its services and outreach to isolated women who may be vulnerable or at risk of violence due to poverty, disability, geographic location, language barriers, precarious immigration, and work status.

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized legal clinic for women experiencing violence, established in the memory of Barbra Schlifer– an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario on April 11, 1980. The Clinic assists approximately 4,000 women annually to build lives free from violence through counseling, legal representation, and language interpretation. They amplify women's voices and cultivate their skills and resilience. Together with their donors and volunteers, they are active in changing the conditions that threaten women's safety, dignity and equality.

Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Project title: Strengthening Capacity to empower Muslim Women and Girls

The project will increase the organization's ability to apply the gender and diversity lens known as Gender-based Analysis Plus to their services. This will help the organization better identify the intersecting challenges faced by Canadian Muslim women, and ultimately be better advocates for fair and equitable policies, programs, and services affecting Muslim women and girls.

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) is a not-for-profit organization that works to provide equity, equality and empowerment for all Canadian Muslim women. For the past 30 years, its proud and accomplished members have achieved and continue to achieve great milestones for Muslim women and Canada's multicultural landscape. As a highly diverse organization, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women is firmly committed to the overarching vision of improving the status of Muslim women to remain true to their Islamic heritage and Canadian identity.

DisAbled Women's Network Canada (DAWN)

Project title: DAWN Canada Capacity Grant 2019-2023

The project will help the organization advance reform, research, education, and advocacy for women with disabilities. It will also help them work more effectively with their networks and partners by transferring knowledge about intersecting issues that affect women and girls with disabilities and deaf women and girls.

Established in 1986, the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada (DAWN Canada) is a national, feminist, cross-disability, not-for-profit organization that works to end poverty, isolation, discrimination, and violence experienced by women with disabilities and deaf women. As a resource center for and about women with disabilities, it provides policy and program expertise and works with an extensive network of partners.

Scarborough Women's Centre

Project title: Strategically advancing gender equality (SAGE)

The project will support the Centre to meet the increased demands for services by the women in their community – the majority of which have at least one child, have a household income of less than $25,000, and are unemployed despite having some post-secondary education. It will also help the organization stay connected in the community, with the resources, knowledge, and support needed to empower women to achieve independence.

Scarborough Women's Centre is a community-based non-profit organization. Since 1982, they have touched the lives of 170,000 women and their children. Their service users are diverse in race, ethnicity, immigration status, faith, abilities, and sexual orientation and they range in age from 15 to 80. Many of their service users are dealing with issues related to isolation, abuse, newcomer integration, emotional health, and challenges related to employment. With support from staff, facilitators, volunteers, and other women, they empower their service users to become economically and emotionally independent.

International Women's Day

The first International Women's Day (IWD) was observed on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. That day, more than one million people showed their support by participating in public events. In the years that followed, other countries began to observe and celebrate this day.

The United Nations recognized 1975 as International Women's Year and began celebrating International Women's Day on March 8. Two years later, in 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Today, International Women's Day is celebrated around the world – in many countries, it is a national holiday. It has grown to become a global day of recognition of women's achievements and a call to action to support women's rights and advance gender equality. Each year, the United Nations celebrates International Women's Day with a theme that encourages discussion and action; the United Nation's chosen theme for 2019 is "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change".

This year, the Department for Women and Gender Equality is following the United Nations's lead and celebrating International Women's Day with the #InnovateForChange campaign. We are proudly celebrating the women and girls, and women's organizations, who are breaking barriers and doing things differently to help all of us all Innovate for Change. By recognizing their achievements, we can inspire more women and girls and gender diverse people to follow in their footsteps.

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