Intersectional feminism describes how our overlapping identities – gender, race, language, class, ability, sexual orientation, to name a few – impact how we experience oppression, power and discrimination. As intersectional feminists, we want to make Ottawa better for everyone by making sure it is better for people who live at the intersections of various forms of oppression.
For example, our advocacy on the City’s Official Plan this past year was successful in directing language changes that will result in more equitable policies. With the Envirocentre, we created an accessibility toolkit for climate organizations to help them be more inclusive. We developed a toolkit for other municipalities to create their own Intersectional Feminist COVID-19 Recovery Plan. And we have created a feminist Housing Advocacy Toolkit with OCTEVAW, with input from our members, to provide resources for the municipal and provincial elections.
However, we don’t just want intersectional feminism to drive our external work, we also want it to permeate our internal structures and systems. In 2021, we began a journey to explore how our values of intersectional feminism, decolonialism, anti-racism and anti-oppression, and grassroots inclusion could shape not just our work, but also how we work. That journey has proven to be a lot longer, and more difficult, than we imagined. But it is also exciting and rewarding.
We are pleased to share some exciting developments in our organizational journey. In February 2022, we transitioned to a 4-day work week. Recognizing that women still shoulder a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work, a 4-day work week is one way we honour our team’s time and recognize that we all come into work as whole people, with varying family and community commitments.
As we have been thinking more deeply about the organizational structure we would like to see, we’ve done some research on different models. The structure we decided on with board, staff and membership this past year is called sociocracy, which looks like a large Venn diagram, or series of interconnected or nesting circles. We will be experimenting with this structure this year, before we fully implement it. It is our hope that this structure will provide a framework for our grassroots membership to hold more power and for power to be shared more equally between staff.
On that note, in the early part of 2022 we also decided to switch to a co-executive director model. Valerie Stam is now Operations Director and Morissa-Dalia Ellis has joined us as Programs Director. While this may not be the final stop on our journey, we hope this power-sharing transition will set a solid foundation for more changes to come. The journey will continue well into the years ahead. We are excited to be traveling this road with you!