Immigrant Women in Leadership

The Skills for Change Women Centre of Excellence creates and promotes a gender-inclusive and leadership-oriented process of improving the overall profile, quality of life, employment and leadership outcomes for immigrant and marginalized girls and women. To do this, we take into consideration the Gender-Based Analysis, a study that examined the barriers of immigrant women in Canada, a project spearheaded by Skills for Change and funded by Status of Women Canada. Notably, there were eight major barriers identified: language and communication, looking for opportunity, unemployment, lack of confidence, cultural differences, working survival jobs, finances and refugee status.

Gender-Based Analysis

Skills for Change completed a Gender-Based Analysis (GBA) entitled: Gender Consideration When Developing Programming for Immigrant Women.

The goal

To identify and take action on the systemic and domestic barriers immigrant women face in accessing equality of services towards full participation of all aspects of living in Canada.  Eight barriers to leadership were identified in the GBA:  language and communication, looking for opportunity, unemployment, lack of confidence, cultural differences, working survival jobs, finances, refugee status.

Women & Girls in Leadership

Of the over 14,000 people SfC serves annually, 50% were women. Currently, we offer women-specific entrepreneurship training and mentoring at our main site and have carried out an extensive research study on the barriers of immigrant women in Canada. With the research, we have created the Leaders in Residence program, in which we contracted 4 immigrant women leaders to support and mentor a small group of immigrant women in their respective communities. Our Leaders in Residence were able to develop their skills and gain experience as leaders. These women were able to get access to resources, engage with same-minded women, gain new transferable skills and learn from each other to increase their self-esteem as well as their opportunities to secure meaningful employment and increase their economic prosperity. Encouraged by the success of this approach, our intention is to expand the LIR model to all areas of programming in our Community Development Institute for Social Innovation.

Health & Wellness

In October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SfC will launch a breast cancer education program for newcomer women, specifically focusing on women from South East Asia, East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The objective of this project is to reduce poor prognosis and increase early detection of breast cancer among new immigrant and refugee women.

Aside from these three major long-term projects, we are planning to have various events, activities and initiatives throughout the fiscal year 2015 – 16, which includes Gender, Poverty and Diversity Forum; Newcomers Tour to Northumberland County; Herb Garden Group; Art Classes; Film Screenings as well as an event to commemorate the International Day of the Girl.

SfC is sensitive to the fact that women face different challenges and have multiple barriers to participation (even outside the eight identified barriers from the Gender-Based Analysis). In our interventions with women therefore, we aim to be creative and intentional about engaging women where they are at, using a holistic approach to treat them always with dignity and respect using a framework of non-discrimination, self-determination, diversity and inclusion.

SfC is also continually exploring strategic partnership opportunities with employers, funders and different stakeholders to maximize the quality and range of services we can provide to women at differing life situations and histories.





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Toronto Central | St. Clair
791 St. Clair West, Toronto, ON M6C 1B7

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