WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, June 24th

 A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • This week WiTPoli released a statement in solidarity with women who experience harassment online.
  •  Universal Child Care Benefits have been big news this week. Several policy options have been put forward in anticipation of the fall election, to address ever-increasing costs for child care in Canada. FYI: you have to register to qualify, you can do so here.
  •  Toronto’s debate on regulating popular ride-share company Uber continues. Fines have been instituted for drivers, which could reach up to $20 000. 72 charges were filed against Uberx drivers this week.
  • In response to the TCH report released early this week Toronto will be investing $300 million to begin addressing the massive backlog of repairs required in TCH buildings.
  • Deciding what to do about Toronto’s insufficient transit system has become a topic in the national ‘pre-election,” as hopeful Prime Ministers vie for urban attention. Meanwhile, the Mayor and Premier of Ontario are pushing the extended Scarborough subway despite concerns.
  • Oh yeah, did we mention Toronto is over budget for Pan-Am? But Canada is collecting some gold, in medallion form.
  •  If you are curious about how your city councillor voted on issues that are important to you, you can check out the Star’s policards.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, July 17th

 A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, July 10th

 A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

Meet WiTOpoli’s New Operations Team!

Back in May 2012, two panel discussions explored the role that gender plays in our discussions about Toronto politics. The electricity in the room was palpable – and it sparked a dialogue that we had no idea would turn into an organization, a community. But here we are: Women in Toronto Politics, three years later, hosting workshops and karaoke nights and mixers and creating online resources and metaphorically dedicating Shania Twain’s “Still the One” to each other as we move together toward a gender-inclusive civic future. WiTOpoli: we’re still together, still going strong <3

As we move toward that future, it becomes clearer just how big the scope of our work needs to be, and how many different heads and hearts and hands we need to do it. So our steering committee went looking for operations team leads in four areas: Programs, Equity, Communications and Development. We found so many awesome women that it was, tbqh, impossible to choose only four people – and besides, eight heads are better than four. And we’re preeeeeeetty sure 14 heads are better than eight.

So without further ado, here are the 14 heads (and hearts and hands) who we’re proud to announce are taking the reins and leading WiTOpoli – and our community – toward a more inclusive civic future.




RudaynaRudayna Bahubeshi, Program Co-Lead
Rudayna is passionate about learning, conversations about social change that amplify marginalized voices, Toronto’s arts and culture offerings, and civic engagement, but she’s most excited about bustin’ broken systems in our city wide open with you.


Kate_Bangay_hs2Kate Bangay, Program Co-Lead
Kate is an idea explorer and knowledge collector who is deeply committed to pedestrianism, sparking and participating in meaningful conversations, supporting art and artists and consuming coffee.



lauren-atmoreLauren Atmore, Volunteer Coordinator
After wrapping up her degree in Ottawa,  Lauren moved to Toronto where she enjoys what the city has to offer. In her spare time she likes knitting, travelling near and far, finding new Toronto neighbourhoods to explore and hanging out with her cat.


Amrita_01 2Amrita Kumar-Ratta, Research & Policy Coordinator
Amrita is a lifelong learner, a passionate traveler and a self-proclaimed transnational feminist activist. She adores social policy research, loves to ask hard questions and is a firm believer in “thinking globally, acting locally”. She finds her self-expression in dance, literature and theatre. 



FarahFarah Naaz Mawani, Equity Lead
Farah works at the nexus of human rights and mental health, as Founder of Building Roads Together and Farahway Global, and as a Centre for Social Innovation Agent of Change: City Builder, periodically taking chocolate breaks.



DinobaDinoba Kirupa, Equity Liaison (Programs)
A political science and gender studies graduate from the University of Toronto, Dinoba has been engaged in Canadian politics for many years and volunteers for various organizations seeking to address social inequity. In her free time, she loves taking part in debates, working out, and rooting for Daenerys Targaryen.


IkramIkram Hassan, Equity Liaison (Development)
Ikram is entering her fourth year of a Sociology degree at Ryerson University. In her spare time she is passionate about pursuing her interests in social issues, social justice, and activism.



AlejandraAlejandra Ortiz, Equity Liaison (Communications)
Emigrating from Colombia at a young age, Alejandra has embraced her new home (though maybe never the winter…), dedicating herself to public service while pursuing her passion for women’s issues.




Lauren SLauren Simmons, Communications Co-Lead
Lauren is a high school teacher and activist with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), who can frequently been seen cycling between farmers markets and craft beer bars in Toronto’s East End.


AbbyAbby Plener, Communications Co-Lead
Currently pursuing a Masters in Journalism, Abby has a background in project management and communications, and enjoys writing about gender, politics and pop culture.



Jess LJessica Lyon, Media Relations Coordinator
Jessica is passionate about social justice in the context of heath. Her career has focused on developing community level resiliency to HIV/AIDS, and she is an ardent advocate for the cultivation of femme-friendly spaces across sectors in Canada. 


SonyaWilliamSonya William, Communications Plan Development
Fuelled by late-night char siu buns and inspiration from The Rock’s Instagram, Sonya has bolstered voices and community activity through communications for non-profit film groups around the world.




SapphSapph Li, Development Co-Lead
Sapph is a copywriter and designer passionate about helping people translate their ideas into action. Attracted to WiTOpoli because of her interest in civic engagement, she has also volunteered with groups including Samara Canada.



JuliaJulia Robinson, Development Co-Lead
Julia is passionate about equity and fundraising, and can’t wait to combine those interests as Development Co-Lead for WiTOpoli. In her spare time she is an avid crocheter and reader.



To celebrate our third birthday, the team recently convened with facilitator Dyanoosh Youssefi (a truly wonderful social justice advocate, lawyer, prof and 2014 council candidate) to wrap our heads around a formalized vision, mission and values for WiTOpoli. A few team members are finessing these core guiding principles as we speak, and we’ll be sharing them with you all later this summer. As a teaser, here were some of the keywords we came up with during the session (and yes, one of the “keywords” IS an all-seeing eye with long eyelashes).

Some of the keywords the @witopoli team came up with to serve as the backbone of our organizational values 🔥

A photo posted by Steph Guthrie (@amirightfolks) on


Over the coming months, WiTOpoli will be announcing other ways to get involved: as a member of the operations team or steering committee, or as an occasional volunteer. If you want to make sure you hear about these opportunities, get on our email list!

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, July 3rd

 A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, June 26

 A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Happy Pride everyone! Lots of events will be happening around the city to celebrate the diversity along the gender and sexuality spectrums!
  • Toronto has released its new poverty strategy indicating that 30% of people living with disabilities, 33% of visible minorities, 46% of newcomers and 37% of female single parent families live in poverty. Questions remain as to whether the political will exists at City Hall to implement the recommendations.
  • In a similar vein a new report exploring Toronto’s transit deserts explores how inadequate transit reinforces existing inequalities and acts as a driver of the cycle of poverty.
  • Eric Andrew-Gee explores a “sliding scale” of minimum wage for cities with a high-cost of living as an attempt to mitigate the impacts of low-wages and high costs of housing. The CCPA argues that a living wage for Toronto rests around $16.60/hr in a two-income household.
  • The Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators will be meeting to discuss how to implement recommendations from their report to address systemic racism in Ontario Schools.
  • The Canadian Network for Women’s Shelters and Transition Homes released their report “Shelter Voices” in 2014. This report explores the successes and the challenges for organizations providing shelter and support to women escaping violence.
  • Indiegogo is hosting a fundraising campaign to complete post-production of Free Cece, A film exploring the epidemic of violence against Transgender women of colour.
  • There was lots of activity in the sub-committees around the city this week:


WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, June 19

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • At this week’s Toronto Police Service Board meeting, the board voted to adopt reforms on carding that were previously proposed in 2014 but rejected by Bill Blair. The decision to reform the practice instead of ending it contradicts Tory’s previous promise made last week. Under the new policy, officers should tell residents as much as possible that they have a right to refuse to provide their information to police, and they should only be stopping people when there is a genuine public safety concern.
  • There are still questions as to what will happen to information that has been collected thus far from carding, and how new provincial regulations may affect the practice once they’re implemented in the Fall. The TPSB meeting also brought news that chair Alok Mukherjee will resign, who has been vocal about carding reforms. His potential successor Andy Pringle has connections to both Tory and Bill Blair.
  • Stephen Harper announced federal funding for Tory’s SmartTrack on Thursday. The funds promised may cover up to a third of the proposed budget for SmartTrack. The feasibility of the the SmartTrack plan is currently being studied.
  • Women in Toronto’s food industry are taking up the hashtag #KitchenBitches and planning a September panel on harassment in the workplace. The campaign, largely spearheded by The Black Hoof’s Jen Agg, was inspired by the story of Kate Burnham who has taken her complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
  • Canada’s Chief of Defence Tom Lawson received major backlash for saying men are “biologically wired” to commit sexual assault.
  • In Ottawa, the OC Transpo service has developed a new tool to make it easier for bus riders to report incidents of sexual harassment.
  • As we all reflect on the Charleston shooting, learn more about the Emanuel AME’s tumultuous history and click here if you’d like to donate to the church itself.