WOMEN NORTH NETWORK:
INNOVATION IN BUILDING HEALTHY NORTHERN COMMUNITIES
1 University of Northern British Columbia (CANADA)
2 Thompson Rivers University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:On average, women in northern British Columbia, Canada live four years less than women of similar age and circumstances in the south of the province. Geography, climate and inadequate means of transportation can isolate northern women within their communities and isolate one community from another. Compromised determinants of health such as inadequate level of income, gender inequality and limited access to health services coupled with ongoing social service and health cutbacks exacerbate the often difficult situation faced by northern women and their families. Coming together to address these issues, university students and faculty, in partnership with community members across northern British Columbia, have initiated a transformative networking process -- the Women North Network (WNN).
Created within a primary health care and health promotion framework, this innovative community development/research project seeks to build a virtual community that strengthens connections between women across the North and aids in the development of healthy communities through informal education, social and health-related action research, and relevant social action and policy change initiatives.
The Women North Network’s electronic strategy includes three main components:
1) a heavily subscribed to online email news service that allows for information sharing and organizing across the North;
2) a website with documents, newsletters and links to online resources;
3) a password protected Online Gathering Space supported through a distributive learning tool used by the University of Northern British Columbia to provide internet-based education to students.
Network components have been utilized as mechanisms to conduct research, as platforms for knowledge translation and transfer as well as for organizing and implementing social action strategies and related policy initiatives. The significance and potential of the Women North Network as an innovative means to connect northern women and improve their quality of life and that of their families and their communities will be considered, along with significant challenges posed by the Digital Divide.