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The last three months have brought unprecedented change, uncertainty and disruption to our community. And, unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, including increased gender-based violence, unpaid labour and job losses.

Alberta has faced a “double-whammy” because it was already reeling from economic and social challenges arising from collapsing energy prices. 

The YWCAs of Alberta have been working together since March to come up with an ambitious and collaborative road map to assist government apply a much-needed gender lens to our economic recovery plan.

I’m excited to report the four YWCAs of Alberta members – Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Banff – have jointly submitted six recommendations to the provincial government’s Alberta Economic Recovery Council. We are publicly releasing the recommendations province-wide today.

While The YWCAs of Alberta has a long tradition of advocating for women and girls, collectively submitting a document like this to the provincial government is rare but necessary to ensure our recovery is strong, successful and leaves no one behind. We are also sharing the recommendations with municipalities, federal politicians and other community partners.

If we want to ensure our best days are still ahead of us, women, girls and families need to be part of the solution moving forward. Now is the time to work together and do things differently.

The YWCAs of Alberta worked with numerous community groups and industry experts in business, childcare and STEM in preparing the recommendations for the Alberta Economic Recovery Council.

Our recommendations urge the government to build a plan that is inclusive and removes barriers to participation in the workplace for women, including establishing a Childcare Task Force, a strategy to attract and retain more women and gender diverse people into Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM) jobs, top-up pay for frontline workers, financing for Municipal Governments, addressing the rise in racialized and gender-based violence and sustainability for the civil society sector.

Underpinning the YWCAs of Alberta recommendations is a request that all decision-making panels and committees set-up to deal with this crisis and the financial recovery include an equal number of women and gender-diverse persons.

The YWCAs of Alberta have been operating in Alberta since 1907, and have supported and empowered women and girls through many other serious community hardships, including the two world wars, The Spanish Influenza and the Great Depression. Collectively, we offer a range of services and programs, including child care, affordable mental health services, women’s shelters and youth leadership programs. 

A big thank you to everyone at YWCA Edmonton who helped with this project, including Director of External Relations Amber Niemeier and Communications Manager Christine McCourt-Reid. 

The four YWCAs of Alberta CEOs will be hosting a special Power Lunch speaker series on June 19 from 12-1 p.m. MT to discuss our recommendations and how you can get involved and help. We will send out more details in the coming days on how you can attend the free, virtual gathering.

Click here to read the recommendations.

Together, we can build a stronger, safer and equitable community for everyone.

Katherine O’Neill, CEO, YWCA Edmontone