OUR MISSION

There has been a global increase in the incidence of domestic violence as the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, with statistics Canada reporting that 1/10 Canadian women fear violence at home amid the pandemic. Women’s shelters have been forced to balance an increased influx of residents with social distancing regulations, leading to shelters becoming overwhelmed and underfunded. As a result of these circumstances, there is a concern that women who need help are being turned away and potentially bound to the same home as their abuser.

Additionally, there are both structural and social barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, which the pandemic has heightened by various means., These barriers are including but not limited to clinic closures, staff shortages, PPE shortages, financial insecurity, and reduced autonomy due to unsafe relationships.

There is an unprecedented need for increased advocacy and support for women in Canada and globally. The COVID-19 Women’s Initiative is a student-led non-profit organization comprised of students, physicians, and community members in Canada. We are working together to advocate for gender equity throughout and following the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that gender is complex and fluid, and the word “women” may not encapsulate all the people we seek to help with this initiative. CWI aims to provide resources and support for members of all marginalized gender identities and expressions who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

Together, we hope to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Promote awareness of the increase in gender inequities occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Promote awareness of the surge in domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown
  3. Provide monetary and item donations to local women’s shelters
  4. Advocate for increased access to sexual and reproductive health services
  5. Partner with healthcare professionals on other initiatives to support women as the pandemic evolves

Meet the Team

Karlee Searle

Co-Founder

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Aman Dhaliwal

Co-founder

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Ashna Parbhakar

Ottawa Lead

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Kush Joshi

London Lead

MD Candidate, Western University

Alice Tan

Hamilton Co-Lead

MD Candidate, McMaster University

Claire Fine

Hamilton Co-Lead

MD Candidate, McMaster University

Imaan Kherani

Calgary Co-Lead

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Serena Tejpar

Calgary Co-Lead

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Katherine Gray

Vancouver Lead

MD Candidate, University of British Columbia

Christina Blagojevic

Toronto Lead

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Ingrid Blydt-Hansen

Editor

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Charlotte Axelrod

Editor

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Sheila Yu

Editor

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Antara Chatterjee

Writer

MSc, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto

Isabella Fan

Writer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Manjot Sunner

Writer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Maria Leis

Outreach Team

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Leah Drost

Outreach Team

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Yulia Lytvyn

Outreach Team

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Jane Armstrong

Resource Team

PharmD Candidate, University of Waterloo

Helena Kita

Resource Team

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Karan Mehta

Graphic Designer

Product Manager, Uken Games

Miranda McDermott

Graphic Designer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Sarah Ge

Graphic Designer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Mahsa Rad

Fundraising Coordinator

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Erin Pearson

Social Media Manager / Community Outreach

Graduate Student, Kinesiology, Western University

Debanjali Purkayastha

Donation Drive Coordinator

PharmD Candidate, University of Waterloo

Neelam Dhaliwal

Pharmacy Representative

PharmD Candidate, University of Waterloo

Ronak Saluja

Website Designer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Tasnim Abdalla

Website Designer

MD Candidate, University of Toronto

Maya Abdalla

Website Designer

BHSc Candidate, University of Ottawa

Ashley Wang

Website Designer

Software Engineer, iNTERFACEWARE