First formed in 1870 and part of the World Young Women’s Christian Association, the Canadian YWCA’s mission statement is to advance gender equity through research, advocacy and sustainable member associations. They focus on ending violence against women and girls, securing universal childcare, and achieving economic security for women.
The YWCA is a goldmine of resources for women; they offer transitional housing, childcare, shelters for women and children escaping domestic violence, fitness programs and health programs. They partner with outside associations to assist women in securing employment and offer over 90 different programs for young girls. The YWCA also runs the Youth Eco Internship program, placing unemployed youth from diverse backgrounds into paid internship positions within non-profit organizations that focus on environment, community and women’s services.
One of the organization’s key focuses is on safety for women, and with their progressive vision, they created an Iphone app to specifically address women’s physical safety. Funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program and created for the Power of Being a Girl anti-violence initiative, the YWCA offers a free app for your phone available for download from iTunes.
The YWCA Safety Siren is an app that, with the touch of a button, silently sends ends emergency email to pre-set contacts with your GPS coordinates and also places an emergency outgoing call to a pre-programmed number. Functioning in both French and English, the Safety Siren includes a library of women’s health resources, lists of ‘red flag’ warnings that might indicate whether the person you are dating is abusive, information on stalking, and some disturbing dating facts, such as: “Over 50% of Canadian women experience an incident of violence at some time in their lives, most before they turn 25.” The app also includes links to 250 resource and crisis centres, YWCA’s across the country, emergency hotlines, and sexual health clinics.
While it’s unfortunate that there is a need for an app like the Safety Siren, it’s a convenient, preventative tool for all women.