In the early 1980s, a group of local feminist women met to discuss and collectively respond to the issues of common concern, such as violence against women, the feminization of poverty, and pay equity. As a result, a chapter of the Alberta Status of Women Action Committee (ASWAC) was established in 1986 with federal funding. The office was located on 6th St, next to Woolworth’s (now the Bargain Store). 1987 saw the first of many Take Back the Night marches hosted by Womanspace, which continue to the present.
Between 1991 and 1993, a reorganization took place and the name was changed to The Womanspace Resource Centre as the organization separated from the Alberta Status of Women Action Committee. In March of 1993, the Womanspace Resource Centre was incorporated as a society of its own and moved to the Professional Building. Activities were focused on social issues affecting women, and the organization spearheaded International Women’s Day Celebrations, Women’s Film Festivals, and became recognized as a source for media on issues surrounding domestic violence.
In 1998, Womanspace established a satellite Centre at the University of Lethbridge with a grant from Status of Women. The Campus Women’s Centre now operates autonomously, with their own office co-coordinators, membership, Collective, and active feminist work. Until the collective became independent, the two boards were considered one large board with the same general focus but serving different clients.
Womanspace’s work continued, moving toward more large scale projects ranging in duration from 18 months to 2 years including Women and Aids, Women and Non Standard Work, Good Food Club, etc. Other significant undertakings included hosting the Vagina Monologues production in Lethbridge, raising $30,000 for local women’s shelters. In 2014 the Martha’s Monthly newsletter was launched, writing about social and political issues through a feminist lens. In 2005 Womanspace collaborated with the Lethbridge College to publish the Feminism in Lethbridge Report. In 2007, Womanspace began providing financial literacy training and workshops for local women, work which continues to be a focus of the organization today.
These activities were sustained through various fundraising efforts, memberships, and funding primarily from Status of Women Canada. In 2010 Womanspace was denied Status of Women federal funding for the first time in its 25 years of service. Recognizing the necessary work being done by the organization, community donations keep the doors open. In 2013, a $60,000 grant was received from the Urban Aboriginal Strategy program, now closed, to provide financial literacy training opportunities for urban aboriginal women. Ongoing services including free weekly tax and identification services are funded solely by community fundraising efforts from 2010 to the present, despite grant applications to Status of Women Canada and other service funding providers.
Womanspace board members, volunteers, and community supporters work tirelessly to provide necessary services and advocacy for women. We thank you for being part of our herstory.