The Building Opportunities for Women (BOW) program is among the educational programs about violence that YWCA offers to diverse groups of youth and adults, using local evidence and experience. The aim of BOW is to engage with women who may be at risk of experiencing violence and ultimately require emergency shelter, as well as meeting the needs of women after having required emergency shelter services.
The projected outcomes of BOW address and measure self-reported impacts of the program on participants’ lives in the following areas:
- Improved housing that is stable and meets the needs of individual women and their dependents
- Improved supports for individual women that are socially and culturally appropriate
- Improved financial stability in comparison to when they started the program
The BOW program offers 12 weeks of facilitated workshops in which groups of 10-15 women explore the roots of gender-based violence, address their own self-esteem and vulnerabilities, as well as identify their future education and training needs. The BOW program addresses topics of interest for women so that they can meet new people, be exposed to relevant and exciting learning opportunities, and eventually achieve greater financial and social stability in their lives.
The projected outcomes of Building Opportunities for Women (BOW) align with the larger mandate of YWCA Genevra House. These include a commitment to activism through education and awareness about gender-based violence, in addition to providing emergency shelter services. Education and prevention are two ways of being accountable to the women and children currently being served by YWCA. While responsibility for violence (physical, emotional, financial) lie with those who commit these acts, the BOW Program seeks to mitigate the likelihood of the participants’ future vulnerability to gender-based violence by enhancing the resources and skill set that women hold. YWCA thus engages in preventative work through the direct support of women who may be vulnerable to gender-based violence.
The BOW program was made possible with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.