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Leadership for Systemic Change – Press Release

Mercy Lawluvi,
Executive Director
(613) 729-3145 

women and gender equality


IWSO launches a new leadership building project for immigrant and racialized women

Ottawa, ON – March 4, 2022. Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO), is pleased to announce receipt of $279,264 from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) for the new project “Let Your Voice Count: Immigrant & Racialized Women Leadership for Systemic Change” This project aims to deliver a feminist response and recovery from the impact of COVID-19, through leadership for systemic change. 

“Immigrant and racialized women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and many have lost their voice due to their lived experiences of violence, racism, discrimination and marginalization. There is the need to build leadership capacity among this group for their voices to be heard and for systemic change to happen” said Mercy Lawluvi, Executive Director of IWSO.  

Increased family pressure and greater job losses for racialized and immigrant women from COVID-19 have exposed and compromised gains for a diverse generation of women leaders. A recent 2021 study, funded by WAGE, identified that racialized women account for 1 out of every 10 leadership roles even though they represent 1 out of every 5 female workers in Canada. This representation negatively influences subsequent racialized and immigrant female generations in finding female role models, networking, and mentoring opportunities for leadership building.

The project will comprise activities to build leadership capacity in immigrant and racialized women. Specifically, the project will develop leadership training for increased awareness and agency, provide mentoring and networking opportunities for building practical leadership skills, and make connections for collective action towards systemic change. The project will also provide placement opportunities to participate across various decision-making tables in Ottawa.

“At the end of the project, Immigrant Women Services Ottawa will have contributed to addressing systemic barriers by supporting the positive distribution of authority and decision-making power. In other words, letting our Voices Count,” said Josephine Basudde, Manager of Crisis Intervention and Counselling Services at IWSO. “By supporting their inclusion in leadership roles, their lived experiences and knowledge can be leveraged,” said Thao Duong, Manager, Settlement & Integration Services.

IWSO will officially launch the project on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022, with the event “Creating the Next Generation of Diverse Women Leaders.” This event will focus on the Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day– “Women Inspiring Women”. The occasion will highlight the leadership experiences of racialized and immigrant women, and their impact on their community/regions and future generations. The event will also encourage engagement of leadership experiences among participants, which will inform the needs assessment of the project.

To register for the event please visit:

About Immigrant Women Services Ottawa:

The mandate of (IWSO) is to empower immigrant and racialized women in the City of Ottawa and surrounding areas to participate in the elimination of all forms of abuse against women; to provide culturally responsive services which will facilitate their access to community and mainstream services and provide other services/programs which will assist immigrant women in their journey to attain their full potential.  Immigrant Women Services Ottawa is a community-based agency serving immigrant and racialized women. We create opportunities for women as they integrate into a new society, rebuild their lives free of violence, and achieve their personal goals.

Learn more about IWSO

About Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE):

Women and Gender Equality Canada works to advance equality regarding sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression through the inclusion of people of all genders, including women, in Canada’s economic, social, and political life as well as the intersection of these with other identities such as ethnicity, age, socio-economic level, disability, and others. Working in partnership with key stakeholders, including civil society organizations, labour groups, the private sector, other orders of government, and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, WAGE actively promotes the inclusion of all people in Canada’s economic, social, and political life.

Learn more about WAGE

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4
Tel: 613-729-3145
Fax: 613-729-9308