Advancing Women’s Awareness Regarding Employment

Moving women out of the cycle of trauma and violence through employment.

Advancing Women’s Awareness Regarding Employment (AWARE)

The AWARE program at BWSS helps women move out of the cycle of trauma and violence through employment. Our office in Vancouver supports women to identify their skills, interests and to develop personal and career goals. AWARE helps women alleviate isolation, learn and grow together in a classroom setting. Importantly women will learn how to strengthen their own personal and community support network. AWARE is flexible and accessible. Women are often navigating many demands on their time and energy. Our continuous intake process helps women find what she requires for her individual situation.


The AWARE Program Curricula contains the following components:

Recognizing, Understanding and Overcoming the Impact of Abuse

Participants work on values, assertiveness, self-esteem, conflict resolution, safety planning and establishing and maintaining boundaries


Counselling and Coaching

All women who access AWARE are eligible to receive 10 hours of support group and individual counselling as part of their personal development goals. Counselling honours the way women cope with trauma and support establishment of new coping skills that build on each individual woman’s brilliance and resilience.


Academic Development

AWARE curricula includes basic computer skills, First Aid, Food Safe and Serving It Right.


Clothing and Accessories

AWARE Participants are eligible to access BWSS boutique My Sister’s Closet to obtain what they need for their job search and interviews. My Sister’s Closet staff and volunteers help women select an outfit and accessories and provide support for the upcoming interview.


Individual Exploration

Participants have the opportunity to develop short-term and long-term goals which includes defining action steps. Our dedicated staff support participants to focus their energies on their goals and participants find with each step they realize their goals and aspirations.


Career Exploration

Participants are able to assess their strengths, skills, previous experiences, learning styles, passions and interests. This includes resume building, job search skills including interviewing and cover letters.


Employment Skills

Through AWARE women have the opportunity to learn and practice essential workplace skills such as teamwork, verbal communications skills, small group work and understanding workplace norms.


Participant Support

To advocate for change in social systems so that they are accountable, effective and accessible for women and girl survivors of violence.

Who can apply

AWARE is open to women applicants with a history of trauma and abuse. Download the Advancing Women’s Awareness Regarding Employment program brochure.

To apply or for more information call AWARE at 778-628-1867 or email



Women who want to enter the AWARE program do not need a formal referral. Women who are survivors of violence and abuse, underemployed (working less than 10 hours a week), or unemployed can be self-referred to participate in the AWARE program.

Our dedicated and talented AWARE Team!

Shakiba Ahani is the Manager of the AWARE program. Shakiba has extensive training and experience in providing supervision, counselling and facilitation to individuals and groups in a variety of settings. Over the years, Shakiba’s work experience has ranged from working with youth, vulnerable adults, and marginalized women who have experienced and suffered years of abuse, violence, trauma, mental health and/or addiction. In her current position as AWARE Employment Program Manager with Battered Women Support Services, she continues working with women who have been severely battered, violated and criticized by their support system and society as a whole. In addition, Shakiba is in the process of completing her Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology at City University.

Michele Francis is the AWARE program Women’s Liaison and has been involved in trauma based work for approximately seven years. Michele has extensive experience and knowledge in working with marginalized women and children using a feminist perspective. Michele provides interview preparation training and employment readiness counselling and other types of specific training based on the assessment of an individual woman’s needs. Michele has her bachelor degree in psychology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and is currently working towards achieving her Masters Degree in Social Work from Simon Fraser University.

Shakiba and Michele work together to build an interconnected web of support for women attending AWARE.  All AWARE participants have access to all Battered Women’s Support Services programs


More Resources on Economic Abuse


AWARE is an employment program of British Columbia and is funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and My Sister’s Closet – social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services and we are honoured to be a subcontractor of Open Door Group.

Every week a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. BWSS is working to change that.