The Challenge

While homelessness is an acknowledged challenge in Canada, not all experiences of homelessness have been seen, understood, or counted in. While the public face of homelessness is often presented as male, women and girls (cis and trans) are experiencing homelessness from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Homelessness is a gendered experience, therefore what women and girls experience in homelessness is different than men. Compounded risks related to violence, marginalization, and discrimination leave women and girls hidden, underreported, misrepresented, and under-served.

Due to its gendered nature, responses to prevent and end homelessness must include a gender-based analysis and approach to meet the needs of all people. The call to use a gender-based approach in community planning on homelessness has been voiced by researchers, leaders, advocates, and allies. However, the question remained about how Canadian communities have/are responding to women and girls’ homelessness.

Through a national survey, we asked:

1. In what ways are (or are not) Canadian communities including a gender-based approach within community plans to end homelessness?

2. Where gendered approaches are lacking, what are the barriers or limitations to their inclusion?

3. Where gendered approaches exist, what are facilitators to enabling these?

The Partnership & Funding

This project represents a partnership between All Our Sisters (AOS) and researchers from across Canada. All Our Sisters is a diverse collaboration of people interested in the specific issue of women and homelessness in Canada.

This Project entitled “Exploring the Presence of Gender-Based Approaches to Women’s Homelessness in Canadian Communities” received funding from AOS.

The Process

A survey was sent out to service providers across the country from January-March 2020 to connect with those who work with and support women and girls experiencing homelessness. A total of 107 participants responded to the survey.

The full report for this project is available by direct download here

What We Learned

• 97% of participants agreed with the statement that women and girls (cis and trans) experience homelessness differently than men

• However, more participants noted that local officials do not understand this distinction than those who do understand this

• Only half of participants noted that women were explicitly included in their current community plans to prevent and end homelessness

• Participants noted that they commonly face push-back when suggesting that women-specific supports should be present in their community

• Overall, while a gender-based analysis has been suggested for Canada’s National Housing Strategy, gender-based approaches to ending homelessness are not broadly taken up in communities across Canada and are actively resisted in several


• Collect and develop accurate data on homelessness experienced by women and girls, including the diversity therein (e.g., transgender, Black, Indigenous, and women of colour)

• Bring/provide awareness of effective gender-based approaches to ending homelessness to empower leaders to create meaningful change

• Enhance the diversity of who participates in decision making, including women and girls (cis and trans) with lived experience(s)

• Make gender-based analysis a requirement of community planning to prevent and end homelessness

Contact Us

Principal Investigator: Abe Oudshoorn – Assistant Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University,, 519-854-2085

All Our Sisters: Shelley Yeo,; Susan MacPhail,

Our full project team:

Kayla May, Amy Van Berkum, Kaitlin Schwan, Alex Nelson, Faith Eiboff, Stephanie Begun, Naomi Nichols & Colleen Parsons