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Celebrating Women In History This International Women's Day

Prior to the 1970's, partner abuse remained a horror that was housed behind closed doors. It was not until women gathered in the late 1960s to share their stories that violence in the home became a public issue. This emergence of women's voices came to be known as the Modern Women's Movement.

Erin Pizzey wrote the first book on domestic violence: Scream Quietly, or the Neighbors will Hear (1974). She is recognized as the founder of the movement against domestic violence, and in 1971 she started the first shelter for battered women, Chiswick Women's Refuge, in London.

The Modern Women's Movement challenged the existing conditions of women and served as a catalyst for the Battered Women's Movement that emerged in the 1970s. In the following years, the battered women's movement dramatically changed society's response to domestic violence. In the early 1970s, there were no battered women's shelters in existence. Today, there are more than 1,500 shelters in North America serving women, children and men who are victims of domestic violence.

"You may have to fight the battle more than once to win it."

Margaret Thatcher

Central Alberta

In May of 1981, the Status of Women Action Committee met to discuss the problem of battered women and their children in our region. As a result of their deep concern and lobbying efforts, a grant was awarded by the Federal Government to conduct research and education. In 1983, after the application of numerous grants and the creation of a suitable framework, the Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter (CAWES) opened its doors with a budget of $200,000,16 beds and four staff. Forty years later our budget is more than $2 million, we employee over 30 staff members, and can offer room for more than 40 women and children. During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, CAWES averaged 96% occupancy for the year. While the shelter was able to accommodate 658 women and children, over 2000 were turned away, 1728 of whom were turned away due to capacity. Fast forward to 2024, we are tripling in size. Construction of our new shelter is currently underway and is expected to be complete in 2025. The new facility will be comprised of 50 emergency shelter beds and forty secure transitional housing units. This expansion in size and scope will provide hope and healing for women and children as they rebuild their lives free from domestic violence.

Throughout the ages, women have taken a leading role in the fight against domestic violence. Their refusal to remain silent has led to a world wide movement in the support of changing attitudes and a violence free home. You have the chance to help women locally. To lead the way for more and more women to fulfill their potential as healthy, happy individuals… free from the shackles of abuse. Remember, celebrating women’s history and supporting women’s shelters are essential steps toward building a more equitable and compassionate society.



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