Jessica Howard

Jessica HowardJessica Howard is Senior Writer at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Having worked as a journalist, blogger, content strategist and university instructor, she believes that storytelling is key to social change. As a mother of two sons, she is also highly knowledgeable about Lego, Star Wars and Superheroes.

"My desire for a better life overruled my fear": Kathy's Story

Kathy Tuccaro with her truckKathy Tuccaro never pictured herself as a heavy equipment operator, but a skilled trades program at Women Building Futures helped her take her life in a new direction.

AT JUST SEVEN years old, Kathy Tuccaro started running away from home.

She says she was first molested as a young child living in foster care, and continued to experience verbal, physical, and sexual abuse during her childhood, as well as throughout her adulthood life.

She went on to have a daughter and become a nurse, but was haunted by her past. She struggled with self-harm, toxic relationships, and alcoholism.

“I had a lifetime of untreated trauma and abuse,” she says. “I had chosen to pack it away and not deal with it.”

At about 40, she hit rock bottom. She found herself living on the streets for a week, following a homeless man who knew how to survive on the streets.

“The turning point came when he slapped me on the back and said, ‘This is the life! Live it, love it!’ I had a sudden moment of clarity and I said, ‘No, this is not my life!’ And I actually stomped my foot. Only to say it louder and with more conviction this time."

Three Reasons Equal Pay Day Matters to All Canadians

Wage Gap StatisticAre you seeing red today? If so, that’s a good thing!

It’s Equal Pay Day, and the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition is calling on people to wear red to acknowledge that women are still “in the red” due to the gender wage gap.

Equal Pay Day marks the date that represents how far into this calendar year women must work to earn what men did in the last year. When you account for the gender wage gap, a woman in Ontario would have to work 15.5 months to earn what men earn in 12 months. That brings us to early April.

On International Women's Day, How Are You Taking Bold Action?

Crowd of women waving hands in the air

Be bold for change!

That’s the rallying cry of this year’s International Women’s Day – an annual celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action for gender parity.

What’s inspiring us today is that we’re already seeing bold action on gender equality in Canada:

-Late last year, the government announced that civil rights activist Viola Desmond will be the first woman to appear on Canada’s $10 bill, a symbolic but significant recognition of women’s and African Canadians’ contributions to Canada.

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This message is brought to you by #GirlPowered!

Girl Powered Girl Council choose their favourite girlpowered messagesThe girl council has spoken!

A cross-Canadian group of girls has shortlisted the most powerful messages from the 1,500 submitted to girlpowered.ca. But, given the sheer volume and awesomeness of the submissions, it wasn’t an easy task.

“How am I going to pick?” asked Brenna, 12, as she and her fellow council members began poring over pages of messages, including “Follow your dreams, even the wild ones” and “Be the girl you look up to.”

New Inspiration for a New Year

Darlene smilingPsst! It’s contagious! And we’re not talking about this season’s strain of the flu.

We’re talking about inspiration, which we can all do our part to spread by sharing positive stories, ideas or experiences that might help others in their own lives.

Inspiration is just what we need at this time of year, when we’re envisioning fresh starts, new challenges, and resolutions (that we’ll actually stick to!). So today, we’re sharing two stories that inspired us in the past year and asking you to share what, or who, motivates you!

4 Tips For Self-Care

Women sitting in cafeDid you come back from the holidays feeling like it wasn’t exactly a holiday?

Are you back at work, staring blankly at a mountain of emails in your inbox, realizing that you never actually had time to put your feet up amid the whirlwind of travel plans, family gatherings, and last-minute-gift dashes?

If your own needs tend to fall off of your to-do list, now is a great time to think about self-care. And it’s not about spending hundreds of dollars at a spa or committing to daily meditation—it’s just about setting aside pockets of time for activities that help you unwind and reset.

Domestic Violence Can Affect Anyone

ClaudineWhen Claudine Lukawesky ran the Boston Marathon this year, her goal had nothing to do with her finishing time. She ran to honour a friend who survived domestic violence and raised funds for the Canadian Women’s Foundation in the process.

“This whole process has made me do things I thought I would never do,” Claudine says. Her friend’s experience and ongoing recovery inspired her to learn more about domestic violence, and find ways to take action.

5 Ways to Lead for Change

Woman smilingWhen you think of leaders you admire, what are their qualities? Perhaps they fearlessly speak their minds, or inspire others by setting a powerful example.

The good news is that you can develop these skills on your own. And there’s no need to wait for a promotion at work to get started. Getting involved social change is a fantastic way to practice leadership skills.

How? When it comes to gender equality, we have a few ideas for how you can lead for change:

Shaneen’s Story: Seeing a Path to Social Justice

ShaneenIn high school, Shaneen Cotterell signed up for ReAct: Respect in Action, a violence prevention program that stoked her interest in social justice. As told to Jessica Howard.

In grade 11, my social science teacher suggested I try the ReAct after-school program, because she knew I was interested in the issues it covered. When I saw that the program talked about things like oppression, gender stereotypes, abuse, and healthy relationships, I signed up and stayed involved through Grades 11 and 12.

Not Cut Out for Traditional Leadership? How about Inclusive Leadership?

Young woman in officeDo you do backflips when you hear the word “leadership”?

Does your inner critic tell you you’re just not cut out for it? That you simply don’t have the experience needed and aren’t in any position to tell others what to do?  

But what if being a great leader isn’t about having all the answers or always being in control? What if it’s about listening and collaborating? Working through networks instead of hierarchies?