Who We Are

The South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) is a community-based and community led association of immigrant women living in the neighborhood of Oakridge and Crescent Town (Danforth Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue). Since being founded by the community’s women in 2007, SAWRO has worked for the empowerment and integration of immigrant women and for the reduction of poverty within the community.

Since 2007, SAWRO has carried out education, advocacy, and service programs in the Oakridge-Crescent Town community. These programs are provided within a matrix of social, cultural and civic support which SAWRO has built up in the community. The focus of SAWRO’s current work is employability and employment programs for the women of the community.

The Oakridge-Crescent Town neighborhood has one of the highest rates of family poverty in Ontario. A key factor in these high poverty rates is the very low labour force participation rates among the women of these families. In response to this situation and in response to the need expressed by community’s women, for the past three years, SAWRO has focused its work on programs that assist isolated immigrant women to get a foothold in the paid labour force.

SAWRO’s employability and employment programs were conceived and delivered by women from the affected community. The capacity of the community’s women to play a leading role in addressing community problems was built up over several years, with capacity building funding from the United Way, the Metcalf Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the United Church 736 Outreach Foundation. The work is currently funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) as a pilot project (in collaboration with COSTI Immigrant Services) for assisting immigrant groups with unique and complex integration needs.

SAWRO is having great success in meeting the demand of the community’s women for connections to jobs they can immediately qualify for. Unfortunately though, they can usually only qualify for the most precarious, low-skilled, low-waged jobs. Despite being intelligent, highly motivated and having high back-home education levels, the program participants have very low levels of marketable skills and little work experience.

SAWRO is here to help prepare and provide training to community members and help strengthen their skills so that they can gain a Canadian experience and restart their career path.