On Thursday, June 9, 2016 B.C. Premier Christy Clark shared her support for the Green Party Bill on Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act and UBC’s draft sexual assault policy. On Friday, June 10, 2016 Premier Clark responded to women advocates on CBC Almanac with Gloria Macarenko regarding policies and funding in respect to violence against women in the province of BC. In her remarks, Premier Clark paid special attention to the importance of employment opportunities for women survivors of violence.
Throughout 37 years of our work at Battered Women’s Support Services we have learned that women with economic skills and support are more likely to leave abusive relationships and sustain themselves and their families into the future. In 2008, BWSS was awarded a contract from the BC provincial government to deliver employment program helping women impacted by relationship violence transition toward employment and/or education. From 2008 – 2011, Empowering Women Employment Program (EWEP), thrived and hundreds of women were able to find a path for freedom from relationship violence through economic independence.
In 2011, the BC provincial government restructured employment services. Through the restructuring BWSS, lost three quarters of EWEP funding resulting in a closure of the program. The new provincial program, Employment Program of BC (EPBC) utilizes a “fee for service” funding model, whereby service providers bill for services delivered from a menu of eligible services. The billing is now undertaken through the Integrated Case Management database.
In 2012, BWSS was contracted by Open Door Group to deliver employment services for women survivors of violence. The new program Advancing Women’s Employment Regarding Employment (AWARE) helps women move out of the cycle of trauma and violence through employment. AWARE supports women to identify their skills, interests and to develop personal and career goals. The program aids women in alleviating isolation through learning and growing together in a classroom setting. AWARE is flexible and accessible. Women are often navigating many demands on their time and energy. The continuous intake process helps women find what she requires for her individual situation. Through the “fee for service” billing model AWARE is faced with an annual $50,000 funding shortfall and we rely on donors like you to continue providing this critical service for women transitioning from violence.
BWSS AWARE program is led by two exceptional women, Shakiba Ahani and Michele Francis. Shakiba and Michele have worked together to build an interconnected web of support for women attending AWARE.
Shakiba has been the manager for the AWARE program for almost four years. Shakiba has strengthened AWARE operations, delivering excellence in service delivery and design for women accessing AWARE. We congratulate Shakiba, who has recently completed her Masters Degree in Counselling! Shakiba has taken a position as a full time registered counsellor and will leave BWSS at the end of June. We are delighted that Shakiba has realized a dream of hers and wish her all the best for her future endeavours.
We are pleased to announce that Michele, the AWARE program Women’s Liaison has accepted our offer to take on the role of manager of the AWARE program! Michele has been at BWSS for two years and has extensive experience and knowledge in working with marginalized women using a feminist perspective. Michele has provided women with the information, tools and training needed to advance their journey to employment. As manager, we know Michele will continue her amazing work and be a valuable part of the BWSS leadership team. We are looking forward to all that’s next.
Please support women’s employment, independence and empowerment by donating $35 today.