here, we aren't working girls or drug addicts, we are just
learners. It's like as soon as you come through the doorway,
we get along, people are nice to
each other and we are just people."
–Participant – comment made at end of
for Women on the Streets was designed as a participatory action research
project to examine the impact of literacy activities on the lives of women
working as sex-trade workers in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Many
women at WISH
inspired the research project and we all learned a great deal in our collective
to create literacy and learning opportunities in the WISH
and Safe House) Drop-In Centre.
the beginning, we all knew that this was worthwhile, important and groundbreaking
work. We also came to understand
the deep-rooted stereotypes
society has attached to women working in the sex-trade and their impact
on women's self-concept and learning. At one of our research reflection
the spring of 2003, we generated a list of myths about women's learning.
These myths affected every aspect of our project from funding to learning.
Women who work in the sex trade are just objects, they
have no minds.
who work in the sex-trade and/or who use drugs are not "ready" to
Street involved women are not interested in building
their minds or getting pleasure from thinking, reading,
discussion or analysis.