People and Places

International Women’s Day: The Cornerstone to solving poverty — helping women at risk of homelessness

In contemplating International Women’s Day, we might ask ourselves: Is it a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women? Or is it a day to remind ourselves about the needs and challenges that still face women around the globe, and right here at home?

Of course it’s both — a celebration and a call to action.

When it comes to homeless women in Ottawa, there are about 1,000 living on the streets. They are invisible. They hide out of sight, just to keep safe.

The solution to poverty begins with safe housing, and that is why I am honoured to be on the Board of the Cornerstone Housing for Women Foundation, an organization in Ottawa that was able to help 484 women at risk of homelessness last year.

Cornerstone provides affordable housing, emergency shelter, basic needs, housing search, transitional programs and support services. Its Women’s Shelter provides emergency, short term accommodation for 61 women per day and is located at 170 O’Connor St. Permanent affordable housing is also offered at 314 Booth Street (42 apartments), 515 Maclaren Street (20 units), and McPhail House (6 units).

This Friday, March 11 from 1 to 3 pm, The Well, a day program for women and women with children located at 154 Elgin Street, will host an event to celebrate women and connect communities. It will feature drumming by Aboriginal leaders, testimonials, an art exhibit and great food.

“On behalf of the coalition of women’s services who are participating in the planning of this event, we are thrilled that International Women’s Week is shaping up to be a time of celebration and community,” says Sue Garvey, Executive Director of Cornerstone Housing for Women.

The network  participating in this event includes Cornerstone Housing for Women, Shepherds of Good Hope, Minwaashin Lodge, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Tewegan Housing for Aboriginal Youth and the Well. Royal LePage Realty, Third World Bazaar, Mckeen Metro Glebe, and Thyme & Again are sponsoring the event.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

(Above photo: Cornerstone residents who, last summer, went on an overnight adventure to Waupoos Family Farm, which offers vacations for families in need.)

Also Tonight! The 2016 Femmy Awards…

Help ring in the feminist New Year at Library and Archives Canada, tonight, where local women will be honoured at the Femmy Awards. The event will also feature an activist fair, powerful arts performances, food and drink, and a dance party. Admission if free and on-site childcare will be offered. Doors open at 6 p.m. More info, visit here.