Eight organizations that serve women in Ottawa are planning to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 together.
There will be food, entertainment and activities for the women and gender diverse people who use the organizations’ services at St. Joseph’s Church on Wilbrod St. at the event put on by Belong Ottawa at The Well, Cornerstone Housing for Women, (both Anglican Community Ministries) along with Dress for Success, Harmony House, Immigrant Women Services of Ottawa, Interval House of Ottawa, the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, and St. Joe’s.
Sarah Davis, executive director of Cornerstone Housing for Women, told Crosstalk that this is the first time since the pandemic began that all of the organizations will host a joint event.
The pandemic deepened the agencies’ connections, said Davis. “As you can imagine, crisis brings people closer together. Those partnerships are really forged to the point where we have memorandums of understanding with our sister organizations and are doing much more collaborative work on the ground together,” she said. “I don’t think any of us would have made it through to “knock on wood” the other side [of the pandemic] without our sister agencies, so we’re really celebrating the collaboration and partnerships, lifting each other up as we supported each other through the last three years.”
It’s also an opportunity to highlight some of the gaps in services that still need attention, Davis said. “We’re always at maximum capacity. There was one day in December I believe when we turned away 22 phone calls, referrals to our shelter alone, and we’re just one service organization.” High inflation, near impossible rent increases and higher interest rates for mortgages are only increasing the number of people who are precariously housed, she added.