WomanACT is looking for a Project Coordinator
In March 2017 WomanACT was awarded funding to the “Advance Gender Equality” project. This project is in keeping with our strategic direction to provide solutions that result in the reduction of violence against women.
Our approach is cross-organizational, project partners play a fundamental role in the project’s design and implementation.
Our project partners are:
This project is part of a pan-Canadian network of 150 women leaders, which will be facilitated at the national level by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and will include ongoing collaboration and five in-person meetings in various Canadian cities.
This 36-month project will prevent recurring violence against women by addressing barriers which prevent women from accessing services, social benefits and safety measures.
Working with stakeholders from community networks representing different services and programs provided in our community, a gender analysis will be undertaken on the impact of policies related to social security, immigration status, child custody and affordable housing for women experiencing violence.
The analysis will inform the development of an action plan to advance solutions to maximize safety and increase opportunities for women rebuilding violence-free lives.
This project’s goal is to host policy dialogues with municipal, provincial, and federal subject matter experts, strengthening longer partnerships for systemic change. Recommendations and final project outcomes will be shared widely with partners, stakeholders, and elected officials through ongoing dialogue.
The Project Coordinator will work directly with organizations’ representatives, women with lived experience, project participants and with municipal, provincial and federal partners.
This initiative will involve the exploration of how policy and systemic issues intersect and contribute to issues of safety. True feminist gender analysis will be taken into account when analyzing how various factors contribute to women’s safety. To ensure at-risk women are included, this project will include the active participation of women with lived experience.
The project coordinator will be reporting directly to WomanACT’s Executive Director and work collaboratively with the project’s women leaders, which will ensure sector consultation and collaboration.
Please follow this link to view the Request for Expression of Interest.
Please share this document widely!
BY: Jenna Valleriani, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology and Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies, University of Toronto
As part of their annual End Violence Against Women Week, the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto hosted over 250 participants per day for a week of education, training and discussions in Toronto, Ontario. On Tuesday morning, one of their featured keynotes was Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician, best-selling author and renowned speaker on a range of issues such as addiction studies and childhood development. His focus was centered on the idea of “compassion fatigue”, really premised on how to care for others while caring for ourselves. Compassion fatigue is more than just what is commonly known as ‘burning out’, it refers to “the overall experience of emotional and physical fatigue that social service professionals experience due to chronic use of empathy when treating patients who are suffering in some way”. It’s also been referred to as ‘the cost of caring’. This is certainly a topic many people in the audience could identify with.
Dr. Maté is known nationally and is praised in harm reduction communities for his work in Vancouver’s downtown east side for over 12 years. If you’ve ever read his books, he weaves case studies with scientific theory, and his own experiences. The premise is that much ‘addiction’, mental illness or problematic behaviours is rooted in a common pathway: trauma – or hurt from one’s childhood, and the idea that the “patterns we develop around pain continue to generate more pain”.
Applying this to the case of compassion fatigue, Dr. Maté went on to explain that people who work with vulnerable communities can also be traumatized from working and hearing about other people’s trauma. The idea of compassion fatigue then becomes also rooted in our own “stuff” – meaning it’s less about the nature of the work itself, but how we relate to the work and how we care for ourselves. More broadly, we often worry about others without taking care of our own emotional responses, and most often women are ‘programmed’, or socially conditioned, to take that role on. The idea of compassionate fatigue is what Dr. Maté more accurately described as lack-of-compassion-for-the-self fatigue. Further, it can be part of a deeper inability to say no, which can exacerbate the difficult nature of the work.
Very central to Dr. Maté’s talk was the mind /body connection. In fact, historically, different medical traditions around the world are very much premised on the idea that the two can’t be separated. But in Western medicine, although we have made lots of scientific advances when it comes to acute care, in dealing with chronic conditions, we often focus on simply alleviating symptoms despite what traditional wisdom has taught us about this interconnection.
So in this way an illness is not just individual, it’s also conditioned by social facts. For example, Dr. Maté described a study which included both children and mothers. The children of mothers who are stressed and depressed were linked to an increased likelihood of having asthma. Stress, then, can be a powerful social experience, which is not just emotional but also physiological. The centers in the brain that process emotion are connected to one unifying system that includes our hormonal apparatus, nervous system, heart, gut, and more, and any aspect will have impacts on other functions. It makes sense that emotions are deeply implicated in the development of illness. These are observations that Dr. Maté makes based on his own experience working with chronically ill patients, and really prioritizes the critical role of individual emotional make up in a variety of disease.
On the role of burnout, I appreciated the idea that burnout is tied to us having to deal with our own self, but also that many people, particularly those working with vulnerable populations, often forget about their own self-care. The health, both mental and physical, of frontline workers, is influenced by the conditions in which they live and work. Particularly with workloads increasing and funding being reduced across the community service sector, front line workers often put their own physical, emotional and spiritual needs aside.
I really enjoyed the talk, and questions ranged from sharing experiences to queries about how we can be better at identifying the need for self-care. One question I had centered on the idea of trauma and how we define these experiences. For example, I struggle with the idea that all addiction is rooted in trauma precisely because if you look hard enough, don’t we all have some experiences that can be interpreted as trauma? Do childhood stressors always manifest itself as elevated risks? And if trauma really can be found or interpreted in anyone’s past (if we look hard enough), then how does this shape the explanatory power of how trauma affects our behaviours?
Overall, what really resonated with me was the need to listen to our bodies—and our gut, and unpacked a deeper source around the idea we know as “burnout”. Many people in the audience provide intensive support for others in time of transition and crisis. This work is arduous, demanding and complex, and often self-care takes a backseat. But every once in a while, the helper needs to be reminded to take care of themselves.
 Newell, J. M., & MacNeil, G. (2010). Professional burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue: A review of theoretical terms, risk factors, and preventive methods for clinicians. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 6 (2), 57-68.
By Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director, WomanACT
The below link was shared by the Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee Windsor- Essex, it will take you to the petition "Open Letter to the Media about the Death of Dr. Elana Fric and Violence Against Women".
The goal is to reach 15,000 signatures. The petition was started by a doctor who wants to challenge media reporting for;
“Humanizing the (usually) male predators and murderers of women while the achievements and life stories of their victims are ignored only contributes to the epidemic of violence against women. It is, in fact, another act of misogynistic violence to reduce women in this way. We should not be reading interviews with this accused murderer's co-workers and patients that paint an image of a dedicated, hard-working, talented surgeon. Lamenting the loss of his surgical skills and the gap he leaves behind glamorizes him and feeds into the idea that the only men who abuse are unsuccessful degenerates. His work should be a footnote in these stories if it is even mentioned at all. Where are the stories about Dr. Fric's patients? About the gap left behind by losing HER?”
Follow this link to learn more and sign the petition.
on behalf of the Toronto March Organizing Committee
Together, and around the world, Toronto will be joining people to clearly state that we are resisting hate! Here are a few things that you need to know about the Toronto Women’s March.
The march begins at 12 p.m. at Queen’s Park. This is located at the corner of College St. and University Ave. The subway stop is Queen's Park. At Queen’s Park there will be a short rally with speakers and followed by a march through downtown Toronto.
Volunteers are needed to assist with marshalling on the day of. If you can assist and want to help there will be a short briefing and training at 11a.m. on Saturday, January 21. Please arrive at Queen’s Park and meet by the statue on the lawn close to the main building. Look for the bright orange marshal vests.
The route of the march is being finalized along with speakers so stay tuned! Also, we are working to secure two accessibility vans to be available during the march route and ASL for interpretation of the speakers during the event. Remember, it is likely to be cold so bundle up and wear layers.
What else can you do to help?
There are also free downloads of five posters that were made for the Women’s March on Washington.
You can access the posters here: http://theamplifierfoundation.org/experiments/womens-march/ .
By Bushra Zafar, Placement Student at WomanACT
As part of my placement, I have the opportunity to attend Shelter and Support Services Committee meetings. At one of the meetings, a number of systemic issues were raised. The first issue was VAW shelters not being able to accommodate pets, leading to women staying in their abusive relationships out of fear for the lives of their furry family members. This is a classic example of one of the many reasons women choose to stay with their abusive partners.
Another issue raised was regarding women who need to find housing but are caught in a loop between landlords and Ontario Works. Ontario Works will not release the rent amount until they see proof of stable housing and landlords will not move forward until they see proof of income. This is yet another systemic issue that adds to the oppression women face in addition to the trauma of the abuse. The intersectionality and multiplicity of oppression is so ingrained in the system that it seems like a deep pit. More than the personal dilemma of whether to leave an abusive partner or not, it’s the system that creates ongoing barriers for women and does not leave them with many options. There needs to be a holistic and collaborative approach at a systemic level to address this issue.
There is a dire need for more VAW shelters as the current ones are overflowing and women are sometimes placed in homeless shelters. This is an even more traumatizing experience for them. All these aspects have to be taken into account when addressing the issue of violence against women. There is a need for ongoing advocacy in order to get funding for projects. These systemic issues create a barrier for agencies and front line workers to help their clients in the best way. They are torn between the desire to help their client and being held back by the systems, policies and laws.
This is an ongoing fight for women’s rights that has been going on for years and still continues. Attending these meetings and getting an awareness about the issues has been an eye-opening experience for me and it makes my goal to work with and empower survivors of abuse, stronger every day.
Help eliminate Violence against Women by making a donation to WomanACT today.
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