IWSO was founded in 1988 to meet the needs of immigrant and visible minority women who were victims of domestic abuse. It was originally named Immigrant and Visible Minority Women Against Abuse (IVMWAA). In 1989, we provided integrated crisis support and language interpretation services in three languages: Spanish, Arabic and English.
At the 2002 Annual General Meeting, the name Immigrant and Visible Minority Women Against Abuse was changed to Immigrant Women Services Ottawa,IWSO. The new name reflected IWSO’s expanding representation in the community and the wider range of services provided to newcomers to Ottawa. Today, the agency provides counselling and support services to women and their families in over 70 languages and dialects.
IWSO continued to grow and added other services and programs, such as Settlement and Integration Services (including job search workshops and computer training) and a service for children who witness violence. IWSO is an important resource for other service agencies. They value our cultural awareness training for community workers and the opportunity to access our pool of trained language interpreters who are available to assist their work with newcomers to Ottawa.
Mission, Vision and Mandate
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) exists to provide immigrant and racialized women and their families in the City of Ottawa and the surrounding area with the supports and tools to achieve their full potential as members of Canadian society and participate in the elimination of all forms of abuse against women and children.
The elimination of all forms of abuse against women and children and achieving social and economic equality for immigrant and racialized women.
To empower immigrant and racialized women in the City of Ottawa to participate in the elimination of all forms of abuse against women.
To provide a culturally responsive crisis counselling service and a language interpretation service which will facilitate an abused woman’s access to community and mainstream services.
To provide other services and/or programs that will assist immigrant women in their journey to attain their full potential.
IWSO is a non-profit organization operating in the City of Ottawa. Its charitable registration number is 131976581RR0001. A 15-member Board of Directors is elected by IWSO members at an Annual General Meeting. The Board provides policy and service directions. Day-to-day operation is managed by an Executive Director with the support of a team of staff and volunteers.
Beliefs, Core Values, Policies
At IWSO we believe that:
- The absence of violence from a person’s life is a fundamental human right. This human right will be reached as part of the larger goals of social and economic equality between men and women and the elimination of all oppressions against women.
- Feminism continues to evolve as a word and movement. IWSO sees feminism as a movement that anyone can belong to in order to work toward a goal of social and economic equality and the elimination of all forms of oppression.
- Violence against women and children must end. Society will become less violent when violence becomes socially unacceptable. For this reason, IWSO seeks to change violent, sexist and controlling behaviour in society.
- Women and their children have a right to safety. We respect and appreciate the complexity of women’s lives and the different choices that women make to deal with the violence in their lives.
- To assist women and their children in violent situations, our work must focus on their immediate safety needs. We also address other issues (e.g. economic dependence, low self-esteem, etc.) that can foster violence against women.
- IWSO is accountable to the community in general, and to immigrant and racialized women specifically, for adhering to our principles, achieving the results we set out for our work, and operating the agency in a financially responsible manner.
- IWSO facilitates the sharing of immigrant and racialized women’s knowledge and experiences, and contributes to the development of Canada as a pluralistic nation.
- IWSO is committed to achieving its mandate in cooperation with other community organizations. Social institutions and organizations must be transformed so that they are respectful and inclusive of immigrant and racialized women.
- Each immigrant and racialized woman contributes to Canadian society.
- Raising awareness on the issues that affect immigrant and racialized women is one of the key tools that IWSO uses to facilitate change.
- Racism is another form of violence that denies women their rightful place in society and the opportunities to be self-determined persons. IWSO is committed to challenging all forms of oppression against women.
Underlying our core beliefs, our core values define who we are and influence the way we function as an organization:
- Accountability: We take responsibility for decisions taken at all levels of the agency.
- Diversity: We are committed to a diverse workforce and ensure that our differences are valued and respected.
- Excellence: We strive to implement best practices in our services, programs and all our activities.
- Leadership: We work to influence public policy, and share with the community the important role of immigrant women in shaping our society.
- Empowerment: We provide the supports and the tools to allow growth and lifelong learning for immigrant women.
IWSO receives financial support from a range of funding agencies. Without this support our work would not be possible.
Become an IWSO Member
Membership is open to all individual women who support the objectives of IWSO and who complete and sign the membership form. Membership is not transferable.
- Raise awareness among immigrant and racialized women who are affected by abuse, in order to enable them to break their isolation and advocate on their behalf.
- Deliver crisis counseling and support service for immigrant women who are abused.
- Provide a language interpretation service to assist immigrant women to access the full range of community and mainstream services.
- Provide other services and/or programs which will assist immigrant women in their journey to attain their full potential.
- Provide sensitivity training for service providers and agencies regarding the needs of immigrant women in order to ensure that existing services are accessible and appropriate to immigrant women and their families.
- Work with immigrant and other communities on education on violence against women and to encourage and support them to take responsibility for their continuing education on this issue.
- Build solidarity among women and encourage them to take collective actions towards ending violence against women.
- Work with local, national and international organizations that share the goal of ending violence against women.
Membership expires at the next Annual General Meeting
The Benefits of Membership
- Receive ongoing communication from IWSO
- Participate in all meetings of the membership
- Elect members of the board at the Annual General Meeting
- Work on specific issues at the committee level
- Participate in special events
- Tax receipt provided for donations of $20.00 or more
We are grateful for the generosity of those who have supported our work for the past 30 years through their donations and time, whether in an ongoing capacity or for a specific event or activity. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Jill Macleod & Associates
- Church of God Sabbath Keeping, Ottawa
- Paypal (recognition during March 8 International Women’s Day …)
- Canada Helps (recognized IWSO in its International Women’s Day Campaign)
- Divertimento Orchestra (pops concert fundraiser)
- Goss Gilroy Inc.
- George Lunan Foundation
- Turnbull Family Foundation
With the help of a diverse staff and through a variety of programs, services and activities, IWSO has assisted many immigrant women and their children to create positive changes in their lives. We are pleased to share our Annual Reports with you.
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400