We Urgently Need Gender Equity in Toronto 

YWCA Toronto deputation to the City of Toronto's Executive Committee 
September 18, 2019

Dear Mayor Tory and Members of the Executive Committee:

My name is Jasmine Ramze Rezaee, and I am the Manager of Advocacy at YWCA Toronto.

YWCA Toronto, as you may know, is the city’s largest multi-service women’s organization. Our Association serves over 13,700 women and girls every year in more than 32 programs, and 11 locations, across the city.

We have a deep and proud history of partnership with the City of Toronto, particularly in providing housing for women and their families. We have operated gender-responsive programs for 146 years, and we are a subject matter expert on gender equity.

Which is why we are here today: to speak strongly in favour of the recommendations you are currently considering.

We have deputed year after year at the City Budget Committee calling for a gender equity lens in the budget process. Why is this important? Because women face systemic disparities. Because racialized women, women with disabilities, elderly women, Indigenous women and LGTBQ+ and non-binary folks are impacted by city decisions in nuanced and sometimes unintended ways.

However, without tracking these impacts, there is no substantive way for the City to create evidenced-based policies in support of women and their families – or to truly respond to community needs.

We think it is vitally important for the City of Toronto to understand how gender impacts services so that the communities we work with can thrive and succeed.

The women who attend our programs tell us of the challenges they face accessing childcare, safe housing, nutritious food, and public transit. The one out of four children who live in poverty in Toronto do not live alone, they are often from single-women households. Women are more likely to work precarious jobs and there is a strong connection between poverty, homelessness and gender-based violence for women.

Despite all good intentions, the interests of women have not been fully protected or reflected in budgetary decisions and processes. For these reasons, we need an intersectional gender lens at the City of Toronto. We need a Strategy. And we need an Office.

You have this incredible opportunity before you right now to pass a landmark motion and really demonstrate your commitment to gender equity to all Torontonians. We hope you heed the urgency of our call, support these recommendations, and demonstrate what responsive leadership looks like.

Thank you for your time.

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