Lifelong Learning at the Women’s Centre

The Cause

The Women’s Centre offers women opportunities to both receive and provide support, connect with others and build community through a variety of programs. Our Lifelong Learning program aims to help women who face significant barriers to traditional education (e.g. poverty, low literacy) build their capacities and their skills, and increase their social support networks.

Last year we offered more than 200 free informal adult education sessions ranging in topics from computer skills, yoga, parenting and self-defense to international women’s issues, crafts, stress management and self-esteem. Ongoing groups include Practice English and Community Kitchen for women with disabilities.

Lifelong Learning program objectives:

Increase women’s sense of belonging and community
Increase women’s opportunities for social interaction
Increase women’s skills and knowledge
Encourage women to use the knowledge and skills they have gained

At the Women’s Centre, every woman’s participation is equally respected and valued. We believe that diverse participation of women is necessary for the broader community to benefit from the strengths and perspectives that women hold.

We recognize that all women will need help at some point in their lives and at others times, or in other ways, will be able to provide help. For example, one woman who regularly attended a free Practice English class at the Centre later volunteered to teach a Spanish language class. We work hard to find ways for women to give back in whatever ways they can, and starting from where they are at.

Through giving back, women generate a sense of ownership of the space, which in turn creates a sense of community. This is not a place where women simply come to receive, rather it is one in which they are able to participate, which is a key factor in creating inclusion.

Who Will it Benefit?

Every day, the Women’s Centre provides a safe and welcoming space accessed by hundreds of women in Calgary. While the Women’s Centre is open to all women, opportunities for many of the women we serve are restricted by barriers in income, language, confidence and accessibility.

In 2012, we served a diverse community of women:

43% had a chronic health issue (e.g. mental health, a disability, or chronic disease)
57% were single mothers; 66% were single
59% were, or had been, in a violent relationship
91% were dealing with poverty

Through our Lifelong Learning program, we provided more than 200 free workshops and groups attended by more than 2200 participants last year.