Out of Poverty
Economic security leads to better futures. You can support the goal of gender justice by helping women and gender-diverse people get the tools they need to move out of poverty.
Women and gender-diverse people are at high risk of poverty, which makes them and their families vulnerable to problems like housing and food insecurity, exploitation, and gender-based violence. Poverty is a significant barrier to gender equality and safety for women and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people.
Why is reducing poverty urgent?
Women are more likely to live in low-income households than men, especially single mothers (Fox and Moyser, Statistics Canada, 2018
Some are even more likely to live in low-income households and face higher risk of poverty, including Indigenous women
, racialized women
, women with disabilities
, and trans people
On top of the human suffering it creates, from healthcare to housing to the legal system, poverty costs Canada billions of dollars each year (Canada Without Poverty
Women are underrepresented in many higher-wage sectors in Canada. For instance, women make up only 20% of the technology workforce (Vu et al., 2019
Breaking Cycles of Gendered Poverty, Building Better Futures
The Canadian Women’s Foundation invests in Economic Development programs to reduce gendered poverty and build economic strength for those who need it most. These programs:
provide “wrap-around support” to help participants break through barriers to access programs in the first place. They help participants get childcare and transportation, afford course materials, find safe housing, and maintain employment.
help participants break into well-paying fields where women are traditionally underrepresented: construction, carpentry, electrical, auto mechanics, and technology. Participants may be matched with mentors, and many programs help women to pay for essentials like tools.
teach entrepreneurship. Participants learn essential life skills and how to create a business plan, build a network, and do marketing, sales, and product development. Some get help finding a mentor, and some get help accessing loan funds to launch their businesses.
help women learn employment skills and gain work experience in “social purpose” businesses operated by community-based, non-profit organizations. They receive on-the-job training and coaching. For women who have been out of the workforce, work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and/or are new to Canada, these programs help them gain experience and confidence.
Though our Investment Readiness Program, we also help women-led and women-serving organizations join the social innovation and social finance ecosystem in Canada. Strengthening these organizations ensures they can thrive and keep making a positive impact in communities all over the country.
is “about developing new solutions to social or economic challenges. It can improve people’s quality of life through collaborating with new partners, testing creative ideas and measuring their impact.” Social finance
is “a tool that seeks to mobilize private capital for the public good. It creates opportunities for investors to finance projects that benefit society and for community organizations to access new sources of funds” (Employment and Social Development Canada, 2019
How Your Support Makes an Impact: Grantee Program Spotlight
Diverse women build careers in trades and technology through a range of supports from career exploration and college-level training to employment and apprenticeship certification.
6-month program supports Indigenous entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods in Northern Canada.
This social enterprise, located in a centre that acts as a community hub, addresses the needs of women who have experienced violence. It is a vertical farm where participants are employed in a flexible, supportive environment. At the same time that participants build their knowledge of and access to good, healthy food, they develop their assets, social networks, and economic resilience.
This pre-employment program prepares newcomer women for careers in the technology sector through web development and design training, tech-specific language skills, employment preparation training, and a practicum placement.
After getting support from the Foundation to turn its social enterprise program into e-commerce, this organization is well-positioned to increase revenue and support for women experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Building Excellence Beyond the Local Program
Help create a Canada where gendered poverty becomes a thing of the past.
We support regional and national service providers to coordinate their work, share promising practices, undertake research on new approaches, and influence decision-makers to approach building economic security in the most effective ways.
Economic Development Donors and Partners
Canadian Western Bank
Government of Canada’s Social Innovation/Social Finance Strategy
RBC Royal Bank
Roslyn Bern, The Leacross Foundation
Groupe Dynamite Inc.