When we asked the question "How
do literacy activities empower and stabilize the lives of women
in the sex-trade?" we didn't realize how much would be
accomplished through the agenda women set for themselves in the Women's
Advisory Group (WAG) and other collective work.
the establishment of the WISH Learning Centre, a dozen new initiatives have
emerged from the Women's
Advisory Group Meetings. These initiatives were a
source of meaningful learning opportunities while also producing concrete results.
Initiatives included the following: planning trips and events, writing grant
proposals for more literacy activities, creating a WISH Newsletter written
and published by women, establishing a Missing Women's Committee, requesting
staff and volunteers at WISH are identified by nametags, assisting in the
development of A Place of Grace (a two-day alternative gathering place for
women on income assistance "cheque day" and the day after, initiated by a
former sex-trade worker and addict who began working the street at 11 years),
WISH job openings be posted in the Drop-In, establishing the annual Literacy
planning memorials for women who have died, representing WISH in the February
14th Women's March Planning Committee, and debating the finer details of who
is entitled to use the services of WISH (transgendered, hungry women not yet
of the Women's Advisory Group
The Women's Advisory Group was initiated
by the WISH organization to be a
vehicle for communicating the issues and thoughts of women who use WISH's
services. It is a critical component of the organization's vision for self-governance
and a place where women can develop leadership and decision-making skills.
The Learning Centre was seen as a logical place to hold the meetings and
staff were originally asked to facilitate the meetings so that women could
about their thoughts and concerns about WISH.