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Values And Guiding Principles

The following values and principles reflect how Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region, Inc. interacts with all stakeholders as a feminist organization, committed to anti-oppression work.

Value: Gender Equity
Principle #1: Advocate for and support all persons who identify as women.

  • People have the right to self-identify their gender.
  • Gender identity and expression is constantly evolving.
  • Challenge oppression based on gender, gender identity and expression.
  • Continuous education is fundamental to gender equity.

Value:  Reproductive Choice
Principle #2:  Support women’s right to reproductive choice.

  • Women are the authorities of their bodies.
  • Ensure our language and actions reflect a woman’s right to reproductive choice.
  • Utilize power and privilege for advocacy.

Value: Self-Determination
Principle #3: Each woman is her own best resource.

  • Acknowledge women’s existing strengths, assets and lived experience.
  • Support and respect women’s decisions, recognizing their autonomy.
  • Women should be acknowledged as the experts of their lives.
  • Accept a woman’s timing in relation to her decisions.

Value: Woman-Centered Approaches
Principle #4: Every woman’s reaction to trauma and violence is unique.

  • Accept that each woman will react to and cope with violence in her own way.
  • Challenge ourselves, each other, and other service providers when we believe a woman’s reaction or coping strategies are being judged or misinterpreted.
  • Support women to understand oppression in context of their lived experience.
  • Provide a safe and non-judgmental environment through the application of harm reduction practices.

Value: Non-Judgmental Practice
Principle #5: Believe that a woman has the strength to make positive changes in her life.

  • Not use her past to judge her now.
  • Work cooperatively with women to identify what they want or need to change about themselves or their lives.
  • Explore healthy and realistic ways to promote these changes.
  • Set aside our own biases and prejudices.

Value: Empowerment
Principle #6: Understand the difference between empowering and enabling.

  • Avoid any judgments, decisions, or actions based on what we think is “best” for the woman and/or her children.
  • Work with women.
  • See every interaction and every exchange as an opportunity to promote empowerment.
  • Accept responsibility to fulfill our individual and organization needs in ways which do not create or reinforce dependency.

Value: Intersectionality
Principle #7: Understand the intersection of oppressions that shape women’s individual experiences of violence.

  • Bring sensitivity and awareness of these issues to our work and individual women and children.
  • Open ourselves to constructive and supportive challenges from coworkers and women who access Sandgate services regarding expressions or demonstrations of oppressive and privileged behavior.
  • Validate women’s own unique experiences of oppression.
  • Accept ongoing commitment to feminist, anti-oppression education.

Value: Inclusivity
Principle #8: Use empowering, inclusive, and respectful language.

  • Take initiative to educate ourselves and increase our awareness of inclusive ways to express ourselves.
  • Take our lead from women regarding words they use to describe their life situations, experiences, body parts, etc.
  • Avoid generalizations and/or broad statements.

Value: Safe Spaces
Principle #9: Strive to maintain a welcoming, validating, accessible and accepting environment.

  • Modify our environment in consideration of women’s feedback, based on available resources.

Value: Systemic Change
Principle #10: Acknowledge and accept responsibility of the power imbalance that stems from privilege in interactions with each other and service users.

  • Recognize that systems create and maintain oppression in women’s lives.
  • Utilize power and privilege for advocacy to strive for women’s equity.