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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A strategy for increasing employment and crisis housing options for women Nielsen, Carol


This thesis examines the strategy of community economic development (CED) to potentially alleviate some of the hardships women experience in obtaining both adequate income through employment and access to transitional (crisis) housing. These two distinct yet inter-related problems have been selected to provide a manageable scope for this thesis and as a result of my own keen interest and involvement in these two areas: employment and crisis housing for women. Indeed, as a comprehensive development strategy, CED may provide the means to effectively deal with the broader complex of disadvantages such as social and economic dependency, marginalization and isolation by providing opportunities for independence and social change. Women are concentrated in low paid occupations, earn 62% of what men earn (1980), experience high unemployment and a number of employment barriers including subtle and/or overt discrimination and a double burden of work and family responsibilities. Women earn 30% (1980) of the total income in B.C., experience a disproportionate amount of poverty as individuals and as single parent family heads, and are twice as likely as men to report government transfer payments as our main source of income. In addition, one in ten women who are married or in a live-in relationship with a lover is battered, and only 50% have access to a transition house or hostel which accepts women who are battered. Due to full capacities, those houses that do exist regularly must refuse access. CED is a very simple concept intended to address very serious and complex economic and social conditions. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of community members through community initiated and supported economic and social activity which generates employment, wealth, community benefit and a great degree of self-esteem. Community is defined here as women who share a common view or ideology and interest in employment and crisis housing provisions. Through the development of women's enterprises, employment may be generated and profits channelled to the creation and operation of transition houses. CED provides a means for incremental change through planning, and specifically, women planning for women to take greater control of our lives. Having entered a "new reality" within this province complete with restraint and privatization and increasing unemployment with associated economic and social costs, CED appears increasingly favourable, particularly for women. Unemployment and violence is increasing while resources and solutions lacking. The opportunity to examine the potential of CED to meet the objectives as stated is provided through the development of a potential scenario and considerations which must be made to increase the probability of success. If women are to experiment with CED, thorough planning must occur within a long-term development strategy. CED is not easy and provides no quick-fix solution to the disadvantages women experience. When consideration of organizational activities, capacity levels and other factors required for success is undertaken, in addition to a realistic examination of the potential and obstacles for CED, good results may occur. CED should be approached both enthusiastically and cautiously. It is my hope that women's organizations will take up the challenge and test the potential.

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