A message from Karen Mason, executive director of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.
The photo above is one of my favourites!
It showcases some of our incredible Kelowna Women’s Shelter supporters enthusiastically attending an International Women’s Day event.
We were so proud to join a variety of other local agencies in a wonderfully collaborative celebration of women’s empowerment, and I was particularly encouraged to see how many men came out to take a leading role.
But here’s the thing. While we’re always eager to get involved on March 8, for us, every day of the year is International Women’s Day.
Every day our team members devote themselves to supporting and raising up women who have experienced intimate partner violence and abuse. They listen, they council, they hug, they support, they educate, they refer, and they advocate.
They are called to this work, and our mission of ending abuse and building hope, and are committed to developing a community in which all humans are treated with dignity and respect.
It is rewarding work. But it is not easy work. Too many women still live with daily abuse in a system that does not take their trauma and struggles into account.
Even among those brave enough to leave abusive relationships and stay at the Shelter, increasing numbers end up with us far longer than our typical, maximum 30-day stay due to a lack of safe, affordable housing for them to move into.
This creates a difficult bottleneck when our beds are full, some with long-term guests, yet we have women in crisis who require immediate refuge.
That the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home initiative has taken into account women fleeing violence as part of our city’s homeless population, and that our provincial government recently committed $734 million over the next 10 years to build and operate 1,500 supported homes for women and children fleeing violence are great, and encouraging, steps.
We applaud them and look forward to doing our part to ensure the right people receive the right housing.
In the meantime, “Happy International Women’s Day” every day of the year.