What Women's Centres Do
Nova Scotia Women’s Centres:
- Provide services and programs based on the identified needs of women within the community of each Centre, and continue to grow as the demand for them increases.
- Are guided in their work by women’s experiences and knowledge. We recognize that women are experts on their own lives.
- Provide women with the information and support they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their children.
What is a Women's Centre?
Each Women's Centre in Nova Scotia:
- Is a safe and accessible physical space, which is welcoming, non-judgmental, and open to all women;
- Is an environment where activities, programs and services are developed by and for women;
- Is a place that offers feminist resources, services, and programs;
- Conducts direct services in a feminist context such as confidential support counselling, crisis intervention, information, referral, and individual advocacy and accompaniment;
- Initiates and carries out social change work, the focus of which is to increase the status of all women;
- Is not affiliated with any political party;
- Shares common feminist principles in its policies and guidelines as articulated in the Policies and Procedures for Women’s Centres Connect;
- Is a member of “Connect” Women’s Centres of Nova Scotia (commonly referred to as Women’s Centres Connect or just Connect);
- Adheres to the standards for Women’s Centres as defined by Women’s Centres Connect.
In sisterhood, we recognize that each Centre is autonomous within its own community.
We serve women of all ages and backgrounds in an environment that is sensitive to women’s needs. We recognize and address issues of concern to women and their families through community development, education and research. We work together with women in our community to create a just and equitable society.
Women’s Centres are community-based organizations working with volunteer Boards of Directors. This enables inclusive processes; women living in local communities have a voice in what programs and services Women’s Centres offer. Through direction from their Boards, Women’s Centres are able to address women’s needs and consider various community characteristics, such as availability of transportation and other services. Remaining relatively small and locally-based enables Women’s Centres to be accessible, flexible and versatile.
Core Services of Women's Centres
- Support Counselling and Crisis Intervention: Staff, who are knowledgeable about women's lives, issues and situations, provide individualized, confidential support. This service is a key component of the early intervention, prevention, and long-term support continuum of Women’s Centre services.
- Advocacy and Accompaniment: For some women, cultural issues, discrimination, fear, intimidation, and unfamiliarity with social service, justice or health systems are roadblocks to getting the help they need. Women’s Centres work on a woman’s behalf, and at her request, to move through the challenges presented by these systems to get the answers and help she is seeking.
- Information and Referral: Women’s Centres provide the information women require to make informed decisions about how to address issues in their lives. Women’s Centres know the services available, understand the systems women must negotiate, have working relationships with other agencies, and support women in finding the service that will best help them. Women’s Centres make appropriate referrals to assist women in finding the services they need.
Each Centre develops and delivers programs to a diverse population of women based on the identified needs of women within their communities.
As much as it is feasible, Women's Centres provide an outreach program to communities that are a distance from the centre. This means that women and families isolated by travel distance and travel cost can still benefit.
Presentations and workshops are a key prevention, education and public awareness service. These events are provided to schools, community colleges, service clubs, professional associations, businesses, church groups and others on request.
Community Development Initiatives
Women’s Centres engage in community development to ensure that the voices of women and adolescent girls are heard; and to initiate and develop community responses to local, regional, provincial, national, and international issues affecting the equality and wellbeing of women.
Women’s Centres engage in social advocacy to improve public policy for women and adolescent girls. Social advocacy includes meeting with government agencies and elected representatives to discuss issues of concern to women. It also means bringing women’s concerns to public light, addressing policy gaps and barriers, and proposing alternative policy
All programs are designed and delivered in a manner that is inclusive, promotes self-esteem, empowerment, independence, and individual decision-making for all women.