TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS CREATING A LONG-LASTING AND FAR-REACHING SOCIAL IMPACT AND TO REDUCE EXCLUSION AND SOCIAL AND GENDER INEQUALITY, AS WELL AS ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS, WE MUST GO BEYOND OUR DAILY AND INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS. THAT IS WHY THE YWCA HAS ORGANIZED, COLLABORATED ON, AND ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN MANY EVENTS AND CAMPAIGNS TO PROMOTE MOBILIZATION, ENGAGEMENT, AND RAISE AWARENESS AROUND WOMEN’S ISSUES.
Four initiatives in 2018-2019 deserve special attention
During the fall 2018 provincial election campaign, despite the waves created by the #metoo movement, reports of harassment scandals on university campuses, or the shock in response to the courage of high school-age girls to stand up and condemn the insidious phenomenon of sexual assault in schools, it was the silence of the political parties regarding challenges faced by women that spoke the loudest.
Instead of sitting back and doing nothing, the Montreal YWCA decided to organize a debate to give four candidates the opportunity to elaborate on their party’s stand on these fundamental issues: violence against women; security and housing; employment, inclusion and immigration; prevention, education and healthy relationships.
This event brought together more than 80 people and was made available online in the form of video clips. The debate revealed the positions of the different parties, and it is our hope that it also allowed those present to better understand some of the issues faced by women and have a more informed opinion on this topic when they went to the polls. Nous souhaitons que ces échanges auront permis aux personnes présentes de mieux comprendre certains enjeux touchant les femmes et d’avoir une opinion plus éclairée à ce sujet au moment d’aller voter.
Also in the fall of 2018, the media reported on tragic suicides that could perhaps have been prevented (one can only hope) if the safety net that is our health system had been more tightly woven. These heartbreaking stories touched residents of Quebec to the core.
At the YWCA – among others, within our residen- tial services – we regularly note major difficulties in trying to coordinate the different resources available to help persons dealing with mental health issues. Unfortunately, we have noticed that the expertise and experience of community-based mental health services are too rarely taken into account, even though professionals working there are ready and able to effectively contribute to the support, services and guidance that people dealing with mental health issues so greatly need.
Here too, we chose to take a stand. Our open letter, Les mains tendueswas published in the daily newspaper La Presse, and was quoted at the National Assembly of Quebec by member Hélène David to point out that it is time for Quebec to stop and collectively think about the growing issue of mental health in our province.
Ludivine Reding • Julianne Côté • Françoise Abanda • Catherine Brunet • Noémie Bannes • Gloria Bella • Sarah-Maude Beauchesne
An overwhelming majority of female sex workers are recruited as minors, the average age being around 14.7. Most are recruited in educational settings (from primary schools through to universities), youth centres, metro stations, and parks. Electronic communication, more specifically, social media, has expanded the arsenal of recruitment tactics used for the purposes of sexual exploitation, and large international events are a conducive environment to recruiting young girls. Gifts, the irresistibility of luxury and the easy money flaunted by recruiters are a powerful draw.
This is why the YWCA, in collaboration with DDB Montreal, launched the Instagram campaign blitz #LaisseToiPasAcheter to make Quebec teens aware of the fact that social media can be used for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Thanks to the involvement of seven popular female celebrities who advertised free high-end clothing and accessories, the campaign directed young people to a message that raised awareness about the tactics used by recruiters and encouraged them to talk about it if they saw offers that seemed too good to be true.
#LaisseToiPasAcheter was extremely successful, generating more than 750,000 views on Instagram. Traditional medias also talked a lot about it, expanding its impact with a public less familiar with this platform. In addition to being the subject of a case study, the campaign was even listed as one of the best ones for the month of March on Grenier, a website that specializes in communications/marketing.
BRIEF ON SECULARISM
Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, has been the source of many debates. In accordance with the YWCA Montreal’s values in line with its actions to promote inclusion, equality and non-violence towards women and girls, and based on the experiences and testimonials collected from the women and girls it helps, the Montreal YWCA submitted a brief to the Quebec Committee on Institutions and the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion.
All while commending the concept of secularism and concurring that, for the purposes of identification and safety, services must be rendered and received with faces uncovered, insofar as practicable, we underline that many women who wear a veil confide to us the extent to which they are victims of intimidation and exclusion. For this reason, we consider that the ban on wearing religious symbols accentuates the discrim- ination already faced by women who wear a veil. We also consider that this measure in no way guarantees the absence of proselytism.
Taking action Where it counts
Combination of material dimensions and social impact of the disadvantaged index.
WHO ARE THEY
The roughly 8,360 WOMEN, GIRLS AND BOYS who benefited directly from YWCA Montreal’s programs and services in 2018-2019 were aged from just a few weeks to 83 years old. From this number, the majority lived on the island of Montreal and as shown on this map, they are mainly from highly disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Some 65% were from immigrant backgrounds.
When the count of the visibly homeless took place in the spring of 2015, 24% of the homeless in Montreal were women. However, this count does not take hidden homelessness into consideration; this situation is extremely difficult to assess and is typical of homelessness among women. Homeless women often live with friends, family members, or with strangers, in exchange for sexual favours. It is important to note that indigenous and immigrant women are overrepresented among homeless women.
Canada-wide statistics show that 73% to 81% of homeless women are or have been victims of psychological, sexual, or domestic violence.
A significantly higher percentage of women than men suffer from mood disorders and anxiety! hese disorders are sometimes the post-traumatic effects of childhood experiences of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, victimization, domestic violence, rape, or harassment. Other risk factors associated with mental health problems include a low level of education, low income, job insecurity, single parenthood, and immigrant or refugee status. Poverty is one of the strongest indicators of an increase, worsening, and persistence of mental health problems in the population. Statistics show that women, especially single mothers and seniors, are among the poorest in society.
In June 2019, housing vacancy rates reached 1.9% in Montreal, and 0.8% for units having three bedrooms or more. This situation particularly affects women, as they are responsible for more than half the rental households, they are the head of more than 80% of single-parent families, and their revenue is lower than that of men. Almost five times more women spend more than 30% of their income on housing than men do. The situation is even more critical for women who are young, older, immigrant or racialized, native or handicapped. These minorities, in addition to having to spend a large portion of their budget on housing, tend to suffer more housing insecurity and must deal with situations of blatant discrimination.
In Montreal, 45% of women earning an income make less than $20,000 per year. The most common occupations for women in Montreal and the province of Quebec include administrative assistant, retail sales worker, cashier, early childhood educator and assistant, and nurse.
In Montreal, women’s employment rates have been systematically lower than men’s for the last 10 years. In 2017, the employment rate among women was 57% compared with 65,2% among men.
In Quebec, in 2014, total median income for women working full time, corresponded to 71,5% of men’s median income and close to 60% of part time jobs are occupied by women.
VIOLENCE AND ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
An overwhelming majority of female sex workers are recruited as minors, the average age being around 15. Most are recruited in educational settings (from primary schools to universities); youth centres; metro stations; and parks.
CYBERBULLYING, INTERNET, AND VIOLENCE
In Quebec, two out of five youths are victims of cyberharassment and more than 60% have witnessed this behaviour. . Close to a third of the 50 most popular Internet sites among high school students contain violence (28%) or sexual content (32%)
ISOLATION, POVERTY AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION
The population in the Peter-McGill district is growing rapidly, particularly with respect to families with children age four and under and persons age 65 and older. The population is mainly composed of individuals living on their own, with 47% of residents coming from ethnocultural communities. Isolation, the need to create connections, and the lack of family and community resources are some of the key issues, as is poverty, which affects more than 38% of children between the ages of 0 and 17. 
In Quebec, 85% of care for seniors is provided by family members. 60% of these family caregivers are women; the higher the number of hours of care per week, the higher the number of women caregivers.  Women also tend to take on more of the day-to-day tasks.  Those in the workforce risk missing work, working less hours, or having to quit their job because they have to care for a family member. 
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
The main motivation for volunteer involvement in Quebec is interest in a particular cause or activity; the chance to socialize, exchange views and develop a sense of belonging; or even to commit to the achievement of a specific project or social cause. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to give back to society while fostering team building. 
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
With respect to access to civil justice, Canada ranks 9th out of 38 high-income countries.  On the other hand, surveys show that the overall population no longer appears to have faith in the judicial system, which translates to a growing number of people representing themselves in court. Too slow, too expensive, too complicated and too out of reach: this is the image that citizens have of justice. 
 Je compte Montréal 2015. Dénombrement des personnes en situation d’itinérance à Montréal le 24 mars 2015, p. vi.
 Gélineau, L. (2008). La spirale de l’itinérance au féminin : pour une meilleure compréhension des conditions de vie des femmes en situation d’itinérance de la région de Québec, Rapport de la recherche qualitative, Québec, 130 p. ; Plante, M.-C. (2007). Lutte contre la pauvreté au Québec : le cas des jeunes femmes itinérantes, Université de Montréal, Faculté des études supérieures, Montréal, 138 p.
 Ministère de la Santé publique du Québec, statistiques 2011.
 Conseil du statut de la femme, Égalité hommes-femmes, portrait statistique, Montréal, par Lorraine Rochon, 2015, p.67.
 Statistiques Canada, Martin Turcotte. Les femmes et la santé.
 Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes. Femmes et santé mentale.
 Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal. État des lieux des enjeux de logement vécus par les Montréalaises, mars 2019.
 Conseil du statut de la femme, Portrait statistique. Égalité hommes-femmes. Montréal, par Lorraine Rochon, 2015. P. 50.
 Ibid, p. 29.
 Conseil du statut de la femme, Portrait des Québécoises en 8 temps, 2017.
 Violence conjugale : Infractions contre la personne commises par une personne conjointe, ex-conjointe, amie intime ou ex-amie intime de la victime. Définition du ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec.
 Conseil du statut de la femme, Portrait statistique Égalité femmes hommes, région de Montréal, 2015, p. 69.
 Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle, Connaitre les besoins des femmes dans l’industrie du sexe pour mieux baliser les services, 2016, pp. 38 et 57.
 Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle, Portrait de l’industrie du sexe au Québec, p. 45-46; Conseil du statut de la femme, La prostitution, il est temps d’agir (Avis), 2012, p. 46.
 LI, Joyce, MSc et CRAIG, Wendy, PhD, Les expériences de la cyberintimidation des jeunes Canadiens, Queen’s University, Ontario, Novembre 2015, 27 pages.
 Directeur de santé publique de Montréal. Portrait de la sexualité des jeunes – Sexualité et médias électroniques.
 Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Rapport final pour la ville de Montréal sur l’étude de besoins dans le quartier Peter-McGill, nov. 2013.
 Selon les données publiées par Campagne 2000 en juin 2018.
 Portrait statistique des proches aidants d’aînés de l’île de Montréal, 2014, APPUI Montreal.
 Institut de la statistique du Québec. Coup d’oeil sociodémographique #27. Juin 2013.
 Fast, J., lero, D., Duncan, K., et coll. Employment consequences of family/friend caregiving in Canada. Edmonton : Research on Aging, Policies and Practice, université de l’Alberta, 2011.
 Réseau de l’action bénévole du Québec.Cahier de recherche portrait des bénévoles et du bénévolat, 2018.
 World Justice Project, “World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2019” (February 2019).
 Santorineos, Anne-Marie, Accès au système de justice : un virage culturel s’impose (novembre 2017).