Author: Anqi Shen
Anqi Shen was a former writer/videographer at the Canadian Women's Foundation. She is passionate about multimedia storytelling, research and policy analysis, and education. She has written and produced content for national news organizations and nonprofits.
When we talk about healthy relationships, the language we use can make people feel excluded and uncomfortable, or on the other hand, understood and accepted. The same goes for programs that teach young people about healthy relationships: it’s important for these programs to be inclusive of gender and all walks of life.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation invests in Teen Healthy Relationships programs as part of our violence prevention grants. When these programs apply for funding, the Foundation asks them for an inclusion and diversity policy.
When we talk about violence prevention, there’s one small word that can make a big difference in practice: empathy.
Over the past two decades, school-based programs that have an emphasis on empathy-building have been gaining ground in countries including Canada, the US and Australia. By learning to empathize with others and solve problems in group settings, students practice how to resolve conflicts without aggression, build emotional and social skills, and develop healthy relationships.
Zahrah Hajali knows how something as simple as creating a safe space to talk can help women escape violence and rebuild their lives.
As an outreach and support worker for the Young Women at Risk program in Ottawa, Zahrah works with young women between the ages of 14 and 24 who have survived violence, including sexual exploitation.
*This story contains details that may be triggering for some readers.
Growing up, Chris Rout and his brother were raised by their mother, Joanne, in a single-parent household. Although she struggled to support her young family, sometimes relying on donations of food and clothing, Joanne always made sure her boys knew how much she loved them.