Upping the economic wellbeing of women

A new project has been launched to improve the economic well-being of women on the Sunshine Coast, thanks to a nearly $294,000 grant from Status of Women Canada.

"We were very pleased to be chosen for the grant. A lot of the credit goes to Pat Hunt who did a beautiful job of painting a picture of the Coast," said Sunshine Coast Community Resource Centre (CRC) director Anne Titcomb.

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While the most recent Statistics Canada numbers show women across Canada make anywhere between 25 to 36 per cent less than their male counterparts, specific Sunshine Coast numbers and local barriers to women's economic well-being are not yet clear.

"This is an opportunity for this community to put a lens on that piece to see what we can be doing to support women," Titcomb said.

The Status of Women Canada grant will be distributed during a three-year period and it calls for much research between now and next March. Titcomb said there will be many focus groups and small committees set up to explore economic issues as they relate to women during that time.

There will also be indicators chosen to measure the success of the project and a gender-based analysis of wages on the Coast.

"When we get all that data and synthesize it, we will run what the Status of Women Canada calls demonstration projects," Titcomb said.

Those demonstration projects are yet to be decided upon, but they will run for the remaining two years of the three-year project.

"Then the end piece that we actually have to give to the Status of Women is a community plan for how we can make a difference," Titcomb said.

Partners in the project, dubbed the Progress Plan, are Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, Sunshine Coast Credit Union and Community Futures of the Sunshine Coast.

"We encourage other agencies to participate in what will be a ground-breaking project," said community services executive director Vicki Dobbyn.

More partners are being sought out by the CRC and Titcomb notes anyone of any gender can get involved in the work that's ahead.

The Progress Plan will also reach out to women of all ages and abilities to get their input.

"A focus will be on finding some of those voices that aren't always heard, making sure that the voices of low income women, older women and single parent households are included," project manager Michelle Morton said.

"Ultimately, we do hope to create a plan that will reduce poverty on the Sunshine Coast."

To find out more or get involved, contact Morton at 604-989-5097 or email theprogressplan@gmail.com.

Updates about the Progress Plan will also be posted regularly on their Facebook site.

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