Racialization of Poverty Project (2005 - 2008)

This project examined the intensification of poverty that is being experienced by many racialized women (Aboriginal women & women of colour) as a result of present and historical social and economic policies. These include the retrenchment of provincial and national social programs and their impact locally, and systems of labour, migration and consumption, globally.

This project used integrated, anti-oppression methodologies to help map the complex impacts on racialized women facing multiple oppressions and was conducted by a community of racialized women. We addressed immediate and systemic barriers related to various aspects of our lives including: ability, language, immigration, childcare, education, labour, employment, imprisonment, sexuality, and family status. We developed programming, lobby strategies, coalition work, research and resources to respond to and imagine beyond these oppressions that are regularly a part of many women’s everyday lived experience.

VSW’s 2002-2005 Women and Welfare Project addressed the feminization of poverty and the welfare system in BC specifically. This project clearly indicated that poverty disproportionately impacts racialized women, especially Aboriginal women, immigrants and refugees, single mothers and seniors. As study after study has shown, those who are racialized fare the poorest in the context of the Canadian state. The processes of occupation, (re)settlement and nation building, slavery and disenfranchisement of racialized groups, labour migration and employment regulation continue to contribute to the depth of poverty experienced by racialized women. The experience of poverty and necessities of survival within this socio-economic system also relate directly to increased criminalization of racialized and poor people.

Women living in poverty experience simultaneous barriers due to policies enacted under the: Indian Act, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, National Child Benefit Initiative, Employment Insurance Act, Employment Standards Act as well as other government policies. Racialized women must contend with multiple systemic, internal and institutionalized oppressions. We have limited access to affordable housing, childcare, language translation, legal aid, welfare, and other programs that might improve marginalized women's socio-economic security and well-being.

This project analyzed and addressed the historical and present impacts of poverty on racialized women that are a result of discriminatory policies, acts, regulations, and laws; it raised awareness, educated, and helped mobilize the general public, media, social justice groups, and policy-makers regarding the impact of poverty on marginalized women and we lobbied governments and institutions to promote policies that impede the feminization and racialization of poverty in Canada.

2652 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V5K 1Z6
604-255-6554 Fax: 604-255-7508 Email: womencentre@vsw.ca