Keela Client Spotlight: Harmony House

Ines Alvergne • Mar 04, 2020

Celebrated on March 8, International Women’s Day is meant to bring attention to gender parity and the rights of those who self-identify as women. 

Of course, it’s a day to celebrate how far women have come and how much they have achieved through social, economic, cultural, and political stages. But, more importantly, this day sheds light on the work that remains to be done to achieve gender equality.

Numbers say more than words. Did you know that:

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, women and girls across the globe are confronted with discrimination, violence, and inequality. According to the Global Gender Gap report, at the current rate of progress, it will take another 107 years to close the gender gap

At Keela, we work with nonprofits who not only raise awareness about this gap, but also commit themselves to help women and children who directly suffer from the consequences of gender inequalities. 

Violence against women and girls is a global crisis that knows no boundaries. It can take place anywhere, including in public spaces, at home, at school, and at work. On the ground, local organizations make a huge impact on helping women who suffered abuse or violence. One such organization is Harmony House, the only second-stage women’s shelter located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 

What is Harmony House? 

Harmony House was founded in 1986 to provide support to women and children who are fleeing abuse or violence, including domestic violence and sex trafficking. As a second-stage shelter, the organization helps fill the gap between an emergency shelter and independent living in the community. 

According to Sandra Pedersen, Fundraising Manager at Harmony House, 50% of women who left a situation of abuse end up going back. And in almost every case, the situation is worse than it was before they left. Without the services provided by Harmony House, these women wouldn’t have the means to stay on their own, and would most likely end up back in the cycle of abuse.

The Everyday Work of Harmony House 

Throughout group support, Harmony House promotes the empowerment of women so they can get back to an autonomous life free from violence.

To that end, a team of front line social workers brings in diverse set of skills to support women in navigating administrative and financial technicalities. For instance, a dedicated program helps women find safe and affordable housing. On top of that, women can seek assistance for legal procedures or even translation services. 

Harmony House also offers a family and children’s program to assist mothers. For example, the Explore After 4 program is designed to help children learn about diversity and complete homework assignments. 

With these programs, the organization has built a safe space for women and children, where they can support each other and build lifelong connections. 

To pursue its mission, Harmony House relies on government funding and a thriving community of donors and volunteers. This year, they are organizing their 14th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser to raise money for equipping the shelter units with wifi, computers, and security cameras. 

Opening the dialogue 

Violence against women is a structural crisis rooted in power inequalities between women and men, and the only way to end it is to achieve true gender equality. 

Dismantling these power relations involves changing perceptions and breaking down a patriarchal social order. And it all starts with opening the dialogue about gender-based violence and inequalities. 

The fight for gender equality doesn’t end on International Women’s Day. It runs all year long through organizations like Harmony House and through people like you. If you would like to support the incredible work of Harmony House, you can support them by donating here