Working Towards Gender Equality in Oakridge-Crescent Town
SAWRO works to bring about increased participation by community women and girls in Canadian economic, social and civic life. It provides programs of education, counseling and support to enable increased gender equality, increased civic engagement of women and girls and reduced vulnerability to gender-based abuse. The key program offering during the past year was Reaching to Empower Youth, a leadership training and community education project on gender equality and violence against women and girls.
Reaching to Empower Youth (REY)
The aim of the REY project was to reduce the vulnerability of the teen and pre-teen girls in our community to abuse and violence inside and outside the family by opening a thoughtful, respectful discussion in the community on gender roles, sexuality and relationships. The project has had unqualified success in achieving this aim.
Twelve teen girls from grades 7-12 were recruited, trained and supported to play a leading role in organizing this discussion. The girls in the lead group participated in 16, two-hour weekly workshops over a 6 month period (September to February). Workshops were facilitated by guest speakers from South Asian Women’s Rights Org. (SAWRO), Alliance of South Asian Aids Prevention (ASAAP), Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO), and George Brown Women’s Studies (Assaulted Women and Children Counselor/Advocate Program). This group was assisted to investigate how conflict over gender roles, sexuality and relationships come up in the community and to apply gender analysis to the problem of inter-generational conflict. The leading group of girls was assisted in learning about healthy relationships in a Canadian context and about how to discuss this topic with other girls and women.
Subsequent to their training, the group of 12 girls led a community education and engagement campaign aimed at reducing vulnerability of community girls to gender violence. The girls were assisted in developing a curriculum and facilitating a series of workshops and other educational activities in the community on gender roles, sexuality and relationships directed at teen and pre-teen girls and their mothers.
We would like to thank COSTI, South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) and Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) for funding this project. We would also like to thank SAWRO, METRAC, ASAAP, SALCO, and George Brown Women’s Studies (Assaulted Women and Children Counselor/Advocate Program) for providing leadership training and learning opportunities to our community’s girls. This was a large step for the community to initiate the revisions and discussion of gender roles, and reduce the vulnerability among teen girls.
High Impact Through Successful Community Outreach
Two large community engagement events were organized for the project lead girls to share what they had learned with the whole community. Each of these events was attended by over 200 people. A launch event for the community education phase of the project was organized as an International Women’s Day (IWD) event. A wind-up event for this phase of the project was organized as a Mothers’ Day event. The teen girls took a leadership role in organizing the events and that themes on violence against women and girls were put in the forefront of the celebrations. These events featured discussions informed by gender analysis and conflict resolution techniques.