Women's Initiatives Committee- Our Mandate

The women’s initiatives committee is responsible for identifying hidden and neglected issues that confront women in our city. The group identifies those issues related to health, poverty, women’s services and education and assesses how the rotary club of Toronto can make a difference. Women’s Initiatives Committee meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12 noon. 


Women's Initiatives Committee Annual Report 2016-2017 - Chantelle McDonald

The 2016-2017 year was one of transition and productivity for the Women's Initiatives Committee (WIC). Coming out of the completion of our major project and successful funding request to the Board to assist in the establishment of a safe house for young women affected by domestic human trafficking in partnership with Covenant House, the committee needed to reflect on its direction and refocus its mandate for the coming several years.
At the beginning of the year, we had one major request before us from the Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP), a project of the Toronto Centre for Community Learning and Development. In the 2015-2016 year, IWIP had presented the request to the committee and we ended the year working with them to strengthen their proposal and get it ready for the Board. Jane Fitzgerald was fundamental to this work.
The proposal asks for $100,000 to assist in the development of a training program for new immigrant women in downtown Toronto. The program offers immigrant women a leadership development opportunity to prepare for work or for volunteering in the social service and community-based sector.
Participants develop organizational and analytical skills, gain understanding of organizational structures and participate directly in local community organizations. The one-year intensive program includes 25 hours per week of in class learning and a three-month internship placement. At the end of the 2016-2017 year, the proposal was before the Board waiting for feedback and/or a decision.
After internal discussions about the next pressing area in local women's issues that we can place support behind for the coming years, the committee decided to ask the community what our focus should be and get a sense of the most pressing and important issues to local women's service organizations. We held a successful focus group in April 2017 that saw turnout from approximately a dozen women's organizations and were honoured to have our President, Susan Hunter in attendance.
We spent the afternoon having very engaging conversations with executive directors, program managers and front line staff and heard that lack of stable and affordable housing is a pressing and significant issue being faced by marginalized women in Toronto.
Suzanne Boggild was a major contributor to pulling off the focus group in partnership with our Chair and Vice Chair. Given the complexity of an issue like housing, the WIC is entering the 2017-2018 year with an intent on additional networking to seek partnerships and find a project that we can partner with. There is a potential project with the YWCA; however, details have yet to be made public and we will be visiting and discussing with the YWCA in the fall to see if a partnership makes sense.
In addition to the above, we granted the following funds to local organizations with a focus on marginalized women in our community:
  1. Interval House ($7,500) - granted to assist Interval House to improve their safety systems and programs, which are fundamental to their operation as a shelter for abused women and children in downtown Toronto. WIC will be recognized in a press release and recognition on their website;
  2. The Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space Initiative (STEPS, $5,000) - granted to assist STEPS in the administration and completion of a local community artwork that engages local marginalized women in creating a community artwork. This project gives local women an opportunity to express their creativity, build communities, and learn new skills and network. WIC will be recognized at the unveiling ceremony of the art piece in the fall and will be mentioned on their website as a sponsor;
  3. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes ($1,000) - donated funds to the annual Walk which provides funding for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world's largest movement of men and boys to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. The WIC has participated in the Walk a Mile event for several years through June Brown's relationship with White Ribbon and we wanted to show our continued support to their cause; and
  4. Other committee funds went to the costs of holding the focus group and providing refreshments and small thank-you takeaways for our guests.
Our members worked very hard and engaged in important discussion about the future of the committee this year. Special thanks also goes to our outgoing Chair, Marcy Berg, and outgoing Liaison Director, Barbara Thompson. In the upcoming year, we look forward to creating a partnership that will generate a large project and continued recognition for the committee and Rotary Club of Toronto. We will also continue to recruit new members to the committee.