CRIAW-ICREF learned from women’s organizations that they understood what intersectionality means but lacked the capacity and resources to put it into practice in their day-to-day work, including in their advocacy. The vast majority of women’s organizations also expressed a desire to work collaboratively and felt that collaboration across sectors and the integration of intersectionality into their advocacy efforts would strengthen the feminist movement.
We sought to address this need by facilitating the application of intersectional thinking and practice to foster collaboration and inclusive, solidarity-based relationships. The “Building Capacity for Intersectional Advocacy on Women’s Issues” project spanned four years (2017-2021) and was thoroughly informed by the thought-provoking discussions, critical feedback and inputs from participating women’s organizations.
CRIAW-ICREF conducted an initial needs assessment by systematically identifying tools and resources to support and develop capacity to build intersectional feminist advocacy and address issues affecting diverse women across Canada.
Through an analysis of existing materials (fact sheets, reports, webinars and videos), surveys and interviews with key informants, we identified gaps and tools that needed to be developed so that intersectional feminist advocacy and capacity building strategies can be used more effectively by organizations and in changing structures of inequality.
“Women’s organizations across the country are providing frontline services, advocacy, feminist analysis, education, and training, all essential for the realization of women’s rights in Canada. After many years of defunding, most organizations reported interconnected challenges of unstable funding, few human resources, and little time to do the work that needs to be done, core-funding would greatly improve women’s organizations’ capacity for action.” – Jackie Neapole, Project Director
CRIAW-ICREF conducted two-day in-person sessions with five regional focus groups. These sessions were held in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, and brought together representatives from women’s and equity-seeking organizations located within these cities and from surrounding regions and provinces. We also conducted a session in Ottawa that brought together representatives from national women’s and equity-seeking organizations.
These first sessions provided an important opportunity to rebuild and forge new links between feminists from a wide range of organizations. They also provided us with more information on the needs in terms of putting intersectionality into practice and building women’s organizations’ capacity to continue their important work.
“This project revealed a rich and diverse fabric of women’s organizations in large and small communities across Canada. However, most women’s organizations struggled with precarious and inadequate funding as well as isolation for those outside urban centres. They were hungry to network and talk at CRIAW’s regional meetings.” – Jane Stinson, Project Manager
“Getting women’s rights organizations together in person gave us the opportunity to have honest, deep and meaningful discussions on our collective challenges and strengths and how to work together in the movement, redistributing power and maintaining our individual organizations’ autonomy. These important discussions led to the development of the guide, Building Feminist Intersectional Solidarity.” – Jackie Neapole, Project Director
CRIAW-ICREF developed an analytical framework and resources and tools framed by the research findings and feedback compiled during the first two activities.
We developed up-to-date and accessible tools to help women’s and equity-seeking organizations to effectively use an intersectional feminist framework for organizational capacity-building, advocacy as well as policy analysis and development to affect systemic change. These tools can be adapted for use by organizations within different sectors working towards women’s equality.
“CRIAW’s new materials on feminist intersectionality fill a vacuum by demonstrating how to apply the concept. The new Gender Equality and Intersectional Analysis Toolkit will help advocates analyze new initiatives from a feminist intersectional perspective. And the Guide to Building Feminist Intersectional Solidarity will help women and their organizations reflect on and improve their actions to build greater solidarity based on recognizing and dealing with our unequal power relations.” – Jane Stinson, Project Manager
CRIAW-ICREF provided two-day in-person training sessions in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax. These trainings aimed to build capacity for intersectional feminist advocacy among the organizations that previously participated in the project.
During these training sessions, participants
Throughout these training sessions, we also piloted the new resources and tools to ensure these will be useful and adaptable to organizations working in different sectors. The representatives were given copies of these resources and tools so that they can apply them within their respective organizations.
“Representatives of women’s organizations were invaluable in the development of CRIAW’s materials on feminist intersectionality by discussing drafts, piloting tools, providing feedback, and in generating the ideas captured in the Guide to Building Feminist Intersectional Solidarity.” – Jane Stinson, Project Manager
“I’m forever grateful for the time, energy and knowledge shared by all the feminists who participated in our project and the willingness of organizations to be involved in our work. It was an absolute pleasure meeting with everyone over the years and hearing about all the important work taking place across the country. I’m also grateful for the wonderful friendships and relationships that have grown out of this project and look forward to continuing to work together and support each other in the years to come.” – Jackie Neapole, Project Director