Vital People: Project aims to help women succeed in green economy

The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria has embarked upon a project that sets its sights on addressing inequalities between genders by identifying current and future barriers to financial inclusion for women in the green economy.

The project, Financial Inclusion for the Green Economy, is hosted by the Community Social Planning Council, working collaboratively with Victoria Community Micro-Lending, the Inclusion Project, Sewlutions and Synergy Enterprises.

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The project is set to release a full report in July.

“The report is just the first part of the conversation,” said Mikaila Montgomery, community co-co-ordinator of the program.

“We want to address the institutional bias shown not just based on gender, but also to newcomers and language.”

The project sets out to create a safe space and engaging women, including disadvantaged women, from a host of diverse communities.

“We want to be socially inclusive,” said Montgomery.

“Although we get lots of support locally, we still see barriers to women.” The goal is to advance gender equality by identifying current and future barriers to financial inclusion in the low carbon green economy. The final report will include levers for change, enabling the project to shift economic, political, and social power, toward increased equality.

A report, the 2014 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises the In Canada, found that women-owned small and medium enterprises are underrepresented, with less than 16 per cent of businesses owned.

“Victoria is in some ways a leader in gender equality — but there is always room for improvement,” said Montgomery. “We still hear of stories of women entrepreneurs making a pitch for funding to start a business being declined — and advised to come back with a man.”

After the report, the next phase of the multi-year project is to look at existing programming, identify gaps and set out goals. The project will look into a cross-section of business segments, from the arts, food, health care and the sharing economy.

The project is made possible thanks to funding by the Victoria Foundation. The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria is part of an informal network of social planning organizations found across Canada.

For more information, or to read the report, go to communitycouncil.ca.

parrais@timescolonist.com.

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