Conclusion: Breaking the Links between poverty and violence against women: A resource guide

Conclusion

Poverty and violence are realities in too many women's lives in Canada. As the gap between the rich and poor widens, and stable employment and affordable housing are harder to find, women living in or recently escaped from violent situations are in even more precarious positions. To make matters worse, many of the programs designed to help low-income women, such as income supports, social housing, employment re-training, subsidized child care and emergency shelters, have been reduced or eliminated completely over the past ten years.

All of us can and should do much more to ensure that all women live free from violence. Low income should not be a barrier to independence, and women from diverse backgrounds should have access to the services and programs that will aid in their healing from abuse. So much can be learned from community agencies and low-income women themselves, who, despite daunting obstacles, are working together to prevent violence and support each other.

Low-income women and their advocates are working in women's centres, social justice groups and antipoverty organizations to address the injustice of poverty and violence. Immigrant and refugee women, Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, lesbians, rural and isolated women, young women and older women are participating in programs that address their real needs. This resource is offered in support of this work.

Please use the information in the section The Reality of Poverty and Violence to increase understanding and counter some of the stereotypes about low-income women who are victims of violence. The Fact Sheets provide a graphic presentation of this information which can be used in educational presentations or as informational handouts.

The examples in the Strategies and Initiatives section provide ideas that enable women to break the cycle of poverty and violence. By improving accessibility and by responding to women's real needs, they are making a difference in the lives of low-income women.

While the situation of low-income women is critical, strength can be drawn from their courage. Perhaps together all of us can help break the links between poverty and violence.

The feminist, community development, sustainable livelihood and Aboriginal approaches can be used by many groups - social justice groups, anti-poverty organizations, health and social service providers, and women's grass-roots organizations - to understand and respond to poverty and violence in ways that contribute to change. The models can be combined to fit the philosophy and experience of the group using them. Groups that may not have worked together previously might consider joining with others to develop community strategies that are comprehensive and inclusive.

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