Older Women’s Dialogue Project

Older women - particularly isolated and under-represented groups - face distinct legal and policy issues that are not well recognized. Bringing these women together to discuss challenges and create resources to improve their wellbeing builds awareness, resilience and highlights the role older women can play in promoting social change.

Overview

Grant: 
$122,359
Year: 
2013
Program: 
Field of Interest, Health & Social Development, Test Grant
Organization: 
British Columbia Law Institute
Cause: 
Addressing Homelessness
Health
Social Services
Partners: 

Canadian Centre for Elder Law, West Coast LEAF, South Granville Seniors’ Centre, DTES Women’s Centre, Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, Aboriginal Mother Centre Society, United Way of the Lower Mainland

Project Details

Women live longer than men, face a higher rate of poverty, and confront discrimination that continues into their senior years. It is important that older women themselves have the opportunity to identify priority issues and barriers themselves, as well as the best approach to address them. Gathering diverse groups of older women to share and take action on the issues most important to them is how the Older Women's Dialogue Project addresses this gender imbalance.

Using personal experience to identify and advocate for systems change

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law sought to bring together under-represented groups of older women to participate in the project. Four partners were identified to connect with groups, including older women in the Downtown Eastside Women Centre, the Grandmothers group of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, Latin American women through the South Granville Seniors Centre, and Elders of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society.

an opportunity for older women to connect their personal experiences with systemic issues

Gatherings offer the opportunity for older women to connect their personal experiences with systemic issues that have negative impacts for many others as well. The groups then decide together on a key legal or policy issue to address, and develop resources to increase awareness and advocate for change.

For one group, barriers to safe, discrimination-free housing is most important, while another focuses on the need for universal pharmacare, and a third group advocates for publicly-funded dental care for low-income seniors. Resources developed to support these issues range from videos to workshops with decision-makers, to brochures and petitions.
 

Relationships are essential to support older women’s voices

Strong relationships are vital to the project’s success, and partner organizations have been invaluable for reaching older women who face many barriers to participation in law and policy initiatives.

Some groups have taken longer to reach consensus on a focus issue and specific resource to develop than anticipated, but flexibility in the project plan has allowed for further meetings to be held to reach agreement. Through collaboration and volunteer support, the project has taken the time and actions necessary to build and maintain trust with partners and participants, ensuring older women’s voices are well represented and heard.

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