Island women's organizations receive almost $1M from Ottawa
'When these organizations have the tools they need ... they make a world of difference'
Two P.E.I. women's organizations are receiving almost $1 million from the federal government to continue working to advance gender equality on the Island.
"When these organizations have the tools they need to do the outreach and the community work, they make a world of difference," said Maryam Monsef, federal minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development.
On Wednesday, Monsef announced Ottawa will give $616,776 to the Women's Network P.E.I., and the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government will get $360,000.
"These funds support these organizations to do the work they need to do so that they can focus on their clients and those counting on them," she said.
Right now, a quarter of the Island's MLAs are women and none of the federal MPs are, but the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government aims to bring those numbers up.
"Our mandate is to increase the representation of women in decision-making bodies," said Sweta Daboo, the coalition's executive director.
"When you're focused on projects ... you can lose sight of the mandate of the organization and the ultimate goal you're trying to achieve."
We want to ensure that women are safe, that their kids are safe and their loved ones are cared for.— Maryam Monsef
Daboo said this funding will not only help build capacity and strengthen governance but also allow the group to better fulfil its mandate moving forward.
"I think this is an incredible opportunity."
Women's Network P.E.I. executive director Jillian Kilfoil said the money will help support the organization through the pandemic so it can keep offering programs and services.
"We're really able to get to a lot of things that we may not have had time or ability to prioritize in the past," she said.
"Whether it be improving our human resources policy, our financial management procedures internally, going through a strategic visioning process."
Kilfoil said by giving the organization the ability to strengthen itself, it will hopefully have the chance to work more collaboratively with smaller grassroots initiatives.
'Barely hanging on'
According to Monsef, the pandemic has had a significant impact on women, especially when faced with job loss and reduced hours.
"Right now, especially during COVID, there are a lot of people who ... were just barely hanging on before the pandemic," she said.
"Now things have fallen apart."
On P.E.I., Statistics Canada suggests the number of men in jobs in November 2020 was essentially the same as it was pre-pandemic. Working women, on the other hand, had still not bounced back.
Moving past the pandemic will be a challenge, said Monsef. However, she said she thinks it could also be "a significant opportunity for the feminist movement" but one even the federal government needs help to tackle.
"Ultimately what we want to see is women who are working — in jobs they love — and they're appreciated in. We want to ensure that women are safe, that their kids are safe and their loved ones are cared for," she said.
"The government can't do that alone, that's where our partners like these two organizations come in."