Hopefully by now you are familiar with the Policies Matter Project, a collaborative research and examination initiative undertaken by WomanACT, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Elizabeth Fry Toronto. After almost three years of collecting, summarizing and analyzing federal, provincial and municipal legislation and policy through a gender-based lens, we are pleased to present to you the product of these efforts: a new and innovative web based tool "A Blueprint for Action on Policies Affecting Women who Experience Violence”. This site is intended to share project findings, enhance communication and collaborative action among VAW allies in Toronto and support other organizations to carry out gender informed policy work. The database is accessible to all (no username or password required) through WomanACT’s website here: Policies Matter
The Blueprint for Action was developed in response to feedback collected from stakeholders. We hope this tool will be used to convene the VAW sector around policy issues in order to advance policy advocacy priorities. It was also designed to:
What will you find on this site? Well, there are several distinct sections that one can easily navigate. The first for example, located under the heading “Report”, allows users to download a full (or summary) PDF copy of the key activities and outcomes of the Policies Matter Project. This report summarizes the groundwork laid by earlier reports and refocuses on the policy intersections that inadvertently put women who experience violence at increased risk, while also proposing a framework for assessing the determinants of women’s safety. The second heading “Documents” includes additional PDF files that highlight supplementary products and findings resulting from the Policies Matter Project (i.e. evaluation methodology, pilot projects information and policy impacts relative to the dimensions of safety).
One of the most original components of this web tool can be found under the “Intersections” division in which online visitors can interact with the site by clicking on identified intersections to see related policies or clicking on policies to access a more detailed description. For example, a user may choose to click on the “income security” title. A box will then appear describing some key determinants in income security. After several clicks, this interactive component creates a visual map that exemplifies the complexities women face when fleeing from violence or surviving abuse. Finally, the “Initiatives” link allows organizations to look up community initiatives that address negative policy impacts that are currently underway and in turn hopefully encourage agencies to contact one another and utilize limited resources to enable cohesive solutions and more effective service delivery.
Enough with all the introductions though, it is your turn to play around and get familiar with the site! We encourage you all—service providers, frontline workers, community leaders, activists, students and policy makers, to explore and use this resource in ways that will hopefully enhance your work and understanding of the issues we all face in the VAW sector.
We welcome your feedback and invite you to engage in the Blueprint For Actions ongoing development. Please contact WomanACT by email or phone at 416-944-9242.