Older Women’s Dialogue Project

Law and social policy reform often moves forward in a way that ignores gender. This is true of the experiences of older women, which remain remarkably invisible from aging policy analysis.

This project is a collaboration with West Coast LEAF.

The Older Women’s Dialogue Project explores:

  1. What are the pressing law and social policy issues impacting older women?
  2. What can we do to address these barriers to quality of life for older women?

This project aims to:

  • Empower older women to influence law and social policy;
  • Enhance the capacity of professionals and practitioners to understand issues through a lens that considers both aging and gender; and
  • Increase public awareness of issues facing older women.

PHASE 1: Consultation and Report (2012-2013)

In 2012-2013 we met with over 300 older women from around the Vancouver Lower Mainland. We held 22 consultation events in 9 different languages. We asked women about the barriers to their well being, and published a report describing what they told us.

We have published a series of eight-page versions of the report in the following languages:

  1. English
  2. French
  3. Spanish
  4. Simplified Chinese
  5. Traditional Chinese
  6. Punjabi
  7. Farsi/ Persian
  8. Dari
  9. Polish
  10. Russian

PHASE 2: Including the Voices of Harder-to-Reach Women—Consultation and Tool Development (2014-2016)


Over a period of two years we have:

  • Conducted 12 additional consultation events. The goal was to include women we found harder to reach in phase one, such as Aboriginal women and women with disabilities.
  • Worked with 4 groups of older women to develop resources that take action on the legal and social policy issues they identify as most pressing to them:
  1. Older women of the Downtown Eastside Women Centre
  2. The Grandmothers group of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre (Mandarin)
  3. Latin American women with the South Granville Seniors Centre (Spanish)
  4. Elders of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society

Project methodology followed a participatory action research approach. For more information see Community Engaged Research Literature and Methodology Review.


  • A series of tools developed by older women on the issues that matter to them: discrimination and security in housing, access to affordable prescription drug coverage, and oral hygiene and dental care. Visit the Tool page for more information and to view the videos developed by older women.
  • A report, entitled We Are Not All the Same: Key Law, Policy and Practice Strategies for Improving the Lives of Older Women in the Lower Mainland, was published on International Women’s Day 2017, and explores ways to reduce the challenges older women face in their daily lives.

The Advisory Committee

The work of this project is being guided by a project advisory committee. The Advisory Committee members are:

  • Shashi Assanand, Executive Director, Vancouver & Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society
  • Anne Beveridge, retired lawyer, faculty member at Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning Division, and board member/secretary, BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support
  • Elsie Dean, Past President, 411 Seniors Centre and seniors’ advocate
  • Donna Dickison, Aboriginal Women’s Action Network member and Elder, Stl’atl’imc Nation
  • Jill Hightower, researcher and former Executive Director, BC Institute Against Family Violence
  • Linda Light, social policy analyst and researcher in the area of domestic violence
  • Bella Maud, retired health sector union member, Metis Nation, British Columbia
  • Gertrude Pierre, Elder, Sechelt Nation
  • Andrea Rolls, retired provincial community justice policy and program planning, and board member, BC Law Institute and CCEL
  • The Honourable Lynn Smith Q.C., Supreme Court of British Columbia (retired)

View a list of committee members’ biographies.


The Older Women’s Dialogue Project is funded by the Vancouver Foundation and the Government of Canada, through the New Horizons Program for Seniors.

Past work was funded by United Way Lower Mainland.

The 2016 National Seniors Day event featuring the tools developed by older women was made possible due to a Multiculturalism Grant provided by the Department of Heritage Canada.

Keywords: Women and Aging, Older Women, Gender Issues, Canadian Conference on Elder Law, International Women’s Day


Government of Canada
Vancouver Foundation Logo

Related Blog Posts

New tool release – Engaging Older Women in your Community: A Promising Practices Guide for Women’s and Senior Serving Organizations (Oct. 2017)

Older Women’s Dialogue Project: Surviving Violence, Calling for Change (Oct. 2017)

We are not all the same: new report of the Older Women’s Dialogue Project released today (March 2017)

Celebrate National Seniors Day with the Canadian Centre for Elder Law  (Aug. 2016)

Project Update: Older Women’s Dialogue (Dec. 2015)

Media Releases

Media Release March 2017- New report identifies barriers to the well-being of older women in British Columbia that require action

Download document (493 KB)

Media Release, August 30, 2012: CCEL to Conduct Public Consultations with Older Women

Download document (1,200 KB)




Related Files

Below you will find additional, relevant and specific documentation, backgrounders, research, resources, media releases and summaries that have been, or will be incorporated into our final publications and study papers.

If you have questions about these or other specific documents, please reach out to BCLI using our contact page or at the bottom of each page of our website.