Our Approach

Women have a lot to contribute to quality of life in our city, especially women at the margins of society who have particular insights into what is needed to make our city a better place to live for everyone.  For this reason, we change the city by working from the margins with those of us who have less power and privilege in society.

CAWI creates systemic change by starting with concrete changes in our lives and in our city.  To achieve this, we use participatory and creative processes that draw upon the strengths, cultural expression, values and knowledge that women across diversity have to offer.

 We promote a democratic practice that engages in the electoral process and moves beyond it. It is a political approach that promotes a deep sense of belonging and ability to make a difference.

 We have identified these principles in our work with the community and apply them as we work in collaboration with the City to advance gender equality and inclusion.

Women’s Civic Participation Training

Increasing the capacity of women from diverse communities to have a voice in city decision making

Since 2004, CAWI has provided Women’s Civic Participation Training where a total of 150 women have learned how city government works and how to bring their views forward... read more

Facilitator Training

Diversity of women facilitating stronger organizations and communities In this 9-month facilitation training program, women participate in six full day workshops to build upon their own experience to learn skills for facilitating in a variety of contexts, planning facilitated sessions, respecting differences, working through conflict and facilitating inclusive decision making... read more

Equity and Inclusion Capacity Building

Creating a city for everyone

Since 2004, CAWI has worked with the City of Ottawa to develop tools and implement processes that enhance the capacity of city staff, management and Councillors to consider equity and inclusion in their employment practices, policy development and delivery of programs and services... read more

Gender and Cities

CAWI clipart

Gender equality is good for women, but it is also good for men and for local government. Increasing the diversity of women in leadership, and keeping the needs of women in mind when developing policies and services, is essential to having quality of life in our cities. This means considering gender equality issues like family responsibility, safety, sexual violence and income levels, as well as ensuring the full diversity of women are included:

This helps the City of Ottawa to fulfill its aim of inclusivity (Ottawa 20/20) and “establish a framework that requires all departments within the City to embrace the spirit of equity and diversity in the development of their policies and programs that impact the delivery of City services…”(Equity and Diversity Policy).

Women and men experience cities differently.

Gender role are changing and men are increasingly assuming responsibility in caring for home and family.  However, differences and inequalities between women and men still persist. Women are more likely to live in poverty, still earn only on average 63.4 % (2004) of what men earn and do more unpaid work in home and community. To see how this impacts women’s lives in all its facets visit a recent report by Statistics Canada, “Women in Canada – A Gender-based Statistical Report”. The City of Ottawa, women’s groups and community organizations have worked in partnership to begin to address these inequities.

The result is that women and men experience cities differently. Women’s have specific concerns when it comes to aspects of city life such as housing, employment, public transit, violence and safety, childcare and access to decision making.

Fewer Women in Decision Making Roles

Women are less likely to become City managers or Councillors. In Canada, women are only 13% of Mayors, and 23% of City Councillors. With 21.7% women elected in local government over-all, Canada falls behind many countries: Costa Rica (73%), Chile (48%), Sweden (42%), Bolivia (34%), Finland (31%), Ghana (30%), South Africa (29%), United Kingdom (27%). (Source: IULA database)

Representation on Canadian municipal councils by women from diverse groups shows a more serious deficit: Overall 1% of elected women are visible minorities, less that 1% are disabled, and less than 1% are immigrant women. Higher numbers of women participate on Advisory Committees, but women from diverse groups (visible minorities, disabled, immigrant, other) are very poorly represented. (Source: FCM Survey, May 2004)

Cities have a role to play in fulfilling United Nation’s Convention:

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (view PDF) is an “international bill of rights” for women. This document was signed by the UN in 1979 and by Canada in 1980 and ratified in 1981. Yet, when the UN Committee reviewed Canada’s compliance to CEDAW in January 2003, it emphasized that the federal government must take urgent action to remedy the profoundly unequal status of Aboriginal and First Nations women, the systematic discrimination confronted by immigrant and refugee women, as well as women who come to Canada under the Live-in caregiver program, the scarce resources for legal aid for family and civil law, women’s increasing poverty, and the downloading of care-giving onto women due to cuts in social programs.

For more information on women and cities, visit our Resources page: