Encouraging Women’s Empowerment

The “Women’s Participation, Women’s Power” project was funded by Status of Women Canada, which has since become the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

The project ran from 2017 to 2020 in the Montreal region and covered a range of issues related to women’s participation in housing cooperatives and their access to decision-making bodies in their living spaces.

Findings and issues

Starting with the observation that, even if they represent more than 60% of residents in housing cooperatives, women are underrepresented in decision-making bodies, the project allowed participants to define their own goals and priorities and put strategies in action so that they can take their rightful place in their cooperatives.

Beyond questions of governance, the process also shed a light on issues of violence and of work/family/participation balance as the main roadblocks to female residents’ full participation in their cooperatives.

A Community-Driven Project

The project was run by a general coordinator who was supported by a project coordination committee which included project partners, as well as by an advisory committee which included representatives from 20 local organizations (including women who are active in social housing issues at a local, provincial and federal level, municipal activists, and those from social movements, the social economy field and the university sector.)

This project also depended on the participation of all of the women who decided to contribute to it, including female residents, professionals, women’s committee members and activists. They shared their experiences of living and being involved in housing cooperatives, which allowed us to look at challenges as well as the inspiring changes that are being made to make cooperatives more equal.

  • Sophie Clerc,,
    Project Coordinator
  • Julie Antoine,
    Quebec Lesbian Network
  • Carole Benjamin,
    Table of women's groups in Montreal
  • Josée Belleau,
    Conseil d’économie sociale de l’Île de Montréal (CESÎM)
  • Kenza Bennis,
    Conseil des Montréalaises
  • Cynthia Bergeron,
    Comité logement Lachine-LaSalle
  • Marie-Emma Castanheira,
    Alpha Laval
  • Lyse Cloutier,
    Table régionale des centres de femmes de Montréal - Laval
  • Danielle Fournier,
  • Nathalie Coutu,,
    City of Montreal Diversity Department
  • Chantal Dubé,
    GRT Réseau 2000+
  • Winnie Frohn,
    Associate Professor Department of Urban and Tourism Studies
  • Claire Garnier,
    Fédération des OSBL d’habitation de Montréal (FOHM)
  • Jennifer Lyse Grenier,
    Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI)
  • Geneviève Labelle,
    Fédération des OSBL d’habitation de Montréal (FOHM)
  • Julie Lapalme,
    Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada)
  • Anne Latendresse,
    Professor, Department of Geography, UQAM
  • Aurélie Macé,
    Association des Groupes de ressources techniques du Québec
  • Dominique Marsan,
    Action des femmes handicapées Montréal
  • Manon Mathieu,
    Office municipal d’habitation de Laval
  • Rosalie Montplaisir,
    Research officer, student at UQAM
  • Charlotte Thibault,
    FHCQ Women's Committee

Project Partners

This project was funded by the Government of Canada and was led by four Montreal-area organizations.

La Fédération de l’habitation de l’habitation coopérative du Québec (FHCQ)

The FHCQ (“The Quebec Federation of Cooperative Housing”) is the largest federation of housing cooperatives in Quebec and the second-largest in Canada. It began in the Montreal area and now covers the entire province of Quebec. The Federation includes around 480 cooperatives which are home to 13,000 households. By offering services and training, the Federation helps housing cooperatives solidify their communities by encouraging them to gain the skills that will allow them to manage themselves.

Le comité logement Lachine-LaSalle (CLLL)

The Comité logement Lachine-LaSalle (CLLL, Lachine-LaSalle Housing Committee) is a community organization which advocates for collective rights. Its mission is to promote and protect access to quality and affordable housing, particularly for households in the neighbourhoods of Lachine and LaSalle. The CLLL achieves its mission through a variety of methods, including advocacy, popular education, public information and awareness campaigns, the promotion of and access to social housing, and consultation and support services for individuals.

Le Groupe de ressources techniques Réseau 2000+

The Groupe de ressources techniques (technical resource group) Réseau 2000+ works to bring together, direct, and provide assistance to people and groups which want to found community housing projects, cooperatives, or non-profit organizations. It serves the populations of Laval and the Laurentians.

La Table régionale des centres de femmes de Montréal métropolitain - Laval (TCRFMML)

La Table régionale des centres de femmes de Montréal métropolitain - Laval (TRCFMML, the Regional Table of Women’s Centres in Metropolitan Montreal and Laval) covers 14 women’s centres. These feminist resource centres work to end the isolation of women and help them improve their living situations by providing services, involving them in collective actions and organizing popular education activities. The TRCFMML supports its members through training programs, by creating tools and by bringing together knowledge and resources. It forms a network of collective actions for equality and social justice, by, for and with women.

Speak out!

Do you have questions or would you like to share the reality in your co-op? If you want to share your success stories or find solutions to your challenges on the road to equality and inclusion, write to us!