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.
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.
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.
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.
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.