February 29, 2024

An article by Stéphanie Mathieu, member of AFP Quebec’s IDEA Committee

Did you know? In Quebec, a staggering 75% of single-parent households are led by women, and these families are twice as likely to experience poverty compared to two-parent homes. This harsh reality paints a clear picture: the well-being of women and children is deeply intertwined, and their collective vulnerability demands our attention, every day of the year, not just during designated national days.

March might mark International Women’s Day, but for the AFP’s IDEA committee, the spirit of “Women and Children First” is a guiding principle, not a calendar entry. From navigating childcare deserts where affordable options are scarce (impacting 4 out of 10 children in Canada), to confronting the chilling reality of gender-based violence (experienced by half of all women in Canada), the obstacles stacked against women can feel insurmountable at times. The most common way of people giving up their power is by thinking they don’t have any, as Alice Walker wisely reminds us. But it’s precisely in these moments that the work of organizations becomes a lifeline.

This March, the IDEA committee acknowledges the work of these incredible non-profit organizations in Quebec that are making a tangible difference in the lives of women and children. These are the unsung heroes on the front lines, tackling issues like food insecurity, domestic violence, and access to education. Whether it’s offering safe haven to victims of abuse, or providing essential resources for single mothers, their impact is immeasurable. But let’s be honest, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back,” as Malala Yousafzai aptly states. Awareness alone isn’t enough.

So, how can we translate understanding into tangible action?

Beyond Donations: 5 Creative Ways to Empower Women in Your Community

While donations are undoubtedly crucial, there’s a wealth of impactful ways to support women in your community that go beyond a financial contribution. Here are some unique ideas that can create lasting change:

  1. Amplify unheard voices: Does a local women’s shelter need help translating documents? Offer your language skills! Are there women-led businesses struggling to be seen? Share their stories on social media or organize pop-up markets. Amplifying their voices and needs can pave the way for concrete solutions.
  2. Mentor the next generation: Become a role model by volunteering with girls’ groups or mentorship programs. Share your career experiences, offer guidance on navigating challenges, and help them envision their own paths to success.
  3. Challenge the status quo: Witnessing gender bias in action? Don’t be a bystander. Speak up respectfully, educate yourself and others, and advocate for policies that promote equality. Your voice, combined with others, can spark important conversations and dismantle harmful norms.
  4. Organize a skill-sharing workshop: Are you a graphic designer, web developer, or social media whiz? Organize a free workshop specifically for women entrepreneurs or community leaders. Sharing your expertise can equip them with valuable skills to navigate the digital landscape and amplify their work.
  5. Create a community of support: Initiate a “mom swap” program where mothers can connect and offer childcare support to each other. Fostering a network of connections and mutual aid can empower women both personally and professionally.

The key is to think outside the box and personalize your actions to the specific needs and challenges faced by women in your community. Every initiative, however small, can contribute to building a more equitable and thriving society for all.

Remember, change starts with each of us. By taking action, we can create a Quebec where women and children not only survive, but thrive. Let’s make “Women and Children First” more than just a slogan, but a lived reality, every day of the year. Together, we can build a brighter future for our communities, starting with the most vulnerable among us. Let’s pick up that weapon, together, and empower the women and children who shape our society.


Statistics to Support the Challenges Women Face:

  1. Childcare Deserts:
    • Source: McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, report titled “Childcare Deserts in Canada: An Examination of Access and Affordability” (2020).
    • Statistic: Across Canada, 4 out of 10 children live in a “childcare desert,” meaning they lack access to affordable, regulated childcare within a reasonable distance of their home. This disproportionately impacts mothers, who often shoulder the responsibility of childcare and face limited career options due to lack of availability.
  2. Gender-Based Violence:
    • Source: Statistics Canada, “Family violence in Canada, 2021”.
    • Statistic: Half of all women (50%) in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. This violence can have lasting consequences for their physical and mental health, and their ability to care for and nurture their children.
  3. Wage Gap:
    • Source: Canadian Women’s Federation, “Fast Facts About Women and Work” (2023).
    • Statistic: On average, women in Canada earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gap that persists even when controlling for factors like education and experience. This economic disparity limits women’s financial independence and can affect their ability to provide for their families.

These are just a few examples, and the specific challenges faced by women can vary depending on their individual circumstances and location. However, these statistics highlight the very real and significant obstacles that many women encounter, and underscore the importance of working towards a more equitable society where all women and children can thrive.

It’s also important to note that these challenges are interconnected. For example, the lack of affordable childcare can contribute to women’s lower wages, as they may be forced to leave the workforce or accept lower-paying jobs with flexible hours. Similarly, gender-based violence can have a negative impact on children’s mental and emotional well-being, perpetuating a cycle of disadvantage.

By understanding these challenges and taking action to address them, we can create a brighter future for all women and children in our communities.


About the author


Stéphanie is an insatiable human with a boundless curiosity for the world, its cultures, and the ever-evolving landscape of technology. She’s not just an observer, but a participant in the world around her. With a knack for diving headfirst into diverse projects, Stéphanie is a lifelong learner who’s always expanding her horizons. She’s not just in it for the experience, but to make a real impact. Shaped by global immersion and digital innovation, Stéphanie brings a unique, heartfelt perspective to every project, leaving a trail of passion and excellence across companies and nonprofits.