Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence

Logo of OCASI's Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities

OCASI's Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence provides resources, education and leadership to the immigrant and refugee serving sector and the broader community on gender-based violence prevention and survivor support.

Our work builds on decades of expertise, as OCASI has been engaged in gender-based violence prevention work since 2002. We facilitate resource development, public education campaigns, professional development and training, online courses, community-building, knowledge-sharing, advocacy, and the use of the arts in order to prevent and respond to gender-based violence within and against immigrant and refugee communities.

On this page:

Guiding Principles

OCASI’s Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence is grounded in an anti-oppressive, anti-racist and intersectional feminist framework. This includes the following guiding principles:

  • Gender-based violence happens in all communities, but it impacts immigrant and refugee communities in distinct ways.
  • Women (including cis women and trans women) and non-binary immigrants and refugees face unique barriers to accessing support for violence or abuse.
  • Immigrant and refugee-serving organizations have an obligation and responsibility to be informed about gender-based violence issues, and to provide compassionate, trauma-informed, and appropriate services for immigrants and refugees who are survivors of violence.
  • The broader community must build its capacity to prevent, recognize, and respond to gender-based violence within immigrant and refugee communities, and to support survivors.


Building Leadership Capacity to Address Gender-Based Violence against Non-Status, Refugee and Immigrant (NSRI) women across Canada

We are a growing network of service providers, non-status, refugee and immigrant women survivors of GBV, organizational leaders, community advocates and academic researchers working together on a national five year project (2019-2024) focused on Building Leadership Capacity to address Gender-Based Violence against non-status, refugee and immigrant women across Canada. This project is led by OCASI, and is funded by the Federal Department of Women and Gender Equality.

To learn more: Building Leadership to Address GBV against NSRI women in Canada

Immigrant and Refugee Communities - Neighbours, Friends and Families (IRCNFF)

This campaign is an Ontario-wide initiative coordinated by the OCASI to raise awareness about violence against women in immigrant and refugee communities. The goal is to educate communities across Ontario to recognize the signs and risks of violence against women and equip them with the necessary tools to support women experiencing domestic violence. Peer Champions act as ambassadors for the IRCNFF Campaign in their communities as well as liaisons between service providers, civic society leaders, and community members.

To learn more: IRCNFF

Online training

OCASI’s Initiative to End GBV online courses are developed to help front-line practitioners, service providers and organizational leaders working with immigrant and refugee communities to better understand issues of gender-based violence and develop supportive responses for survivors with intersectional identities.

Our GBV focused courses are offered through our Learn at Work platform and include:

Understanding and Responding to GBV in Immigrant and Refugee Communities

This six-module course is developed to help front-line practitioners working with immigrant and refugee communities to better understand issues of gender-based violence and develop a supportive response for survivors with intersectional identities.

Understand and Responding to Sexual Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities (Level 1 & 2)

This 10-module course is a two-part series to help front-line practitioners working with immigrant and refugee communities better understand and respond to issues of sexual violence and develop a supportive response for survivors with intersecitonal identities.

Building Indigenous-Migrant Solidarity: A focus on GBV

This five-module course is developed to help settlement workers gain a better understanding of the structural roots and nature of gender-based violence (GBV) in relationship to Indigenous women and two-spirited peoples. And to explain the commonalities and differences between Indigenous and racialized migrant peoples.

Race, Gendered Violence, and the Rights of Women with Precarious Immigration Status

This is a 4-module course developed to help front-line practitioners learn about how to better understand and meet the unique needs of women with precarious status, who are facing gender-based violence.

Bridges to Safety

This 6-week professional development course aims to build a common base of knowledge, increase awareness and education, and enhance the capacity of those in the settlement sector to recognize and respond to gender-based violence in ways that meet the unique needs of newcomer, immigrant, and refugee communities.

To learn more and register for courses, visit our online learning platform OCASI Learn At Work

Advocacy and Research

OCASI’s Initiative to End GBV plays a strong leadership and advisory role at cross-sectoral tables, city-wide, provincial and national level projects focused on community development, public education, professional development and training, community-based research, and advocacy at the intersection of GBV, immigration status, mental health and trauma.

To learn more about some of our research efforts and contributions, visit:

Leading the Settlement SHEcovery: Advancing an intersectional pandemic recovery by investing in women-serving-women-led organizations in Ontario’s refugee-and-immigrant-serving sector

OCASI Women’s Caucus Research Report (2021)
Authors: Dr. Salina Abji, Ashley Major, Roshni Kemraj

Research Purpose:

The OCASI Women’s Caucus conducted this research in 2021 to study the impacts of COVID-19 on Women’s organizations in Ontario’s refugee-and-immigrant serving sector:

  • Identify promising practices
  • Analyze key issues and challenges
  • Understand what organizations need to build capacity and resiliency


  • Reviewed 150 sources as part of an environmental scan
  • Consulted with 23 women’s caucus member organizations as part of a qualitative study

Findings Highlights:

Pandemic Response at the Intersections

  • Quickly pivoted operations in response to COVID-19 public health measures
  • Used their specialized knowledge to respond to critical gaps in public health measures
    • Analysis of systemic barriers and intersectional needs
    • Networks and relationships of care
    • Lived experience

Pre-existing systemic inequities intensified impacts of COVID-19

  • Like other social service organizations in Ontario, member organizations experienced direct impacts on organizational capacity and staff mental health
  • However, pre-existing systemic inequities prolonged and deepened the COVID-19 crisis for Women Serving Women Lead settlement organizations:
  • Direct impacts on staff from equity-seeking groups
  • Vicarious impacts of care work with vulnerable communities
  • Systemic inequities in funding allocation, lack of GBA+ analysis, pay inequity and succession planning concerns.

Implications for government funders, policymakers, and sector leaders

  • Recognize and support the specialized knowledge of WSWL organizations
  • Where calls for proposals are focused on improving women’s social and economic empowerment, give weight to women’s organizations that primarily serve women
  • Create meaningful opportunities to lead and participate in decision-making
  • Build systemic resilience through long-term investments and core operational funding.
  • Create policies that build the long-term capacity of women’s organizations, including HR, technological and administrative infrastructure supports.
  • Invest in women’s leadership and succession planning; investigate and address inequities in funding allocation and salaries; use a GBA+ lens to adapt and transform how services are organized.

To further disseminate this research in a meaningful way, the Women’s Caucus recently created an infographic to capture and summarize the purpose, methods, and key findings of the study.

Access the Infographic here.

Access the full research report.

In addition to this qualitative study, OCASI conducted a quantitative survey of OCASI Women’s Organizations with the goal of collecting data on their baseline conditions to better know who these organizations are, who they serve and how they serve them, and to identify the specific impacts of COVID-19 on women's organization in the settlement sector. Findings from this quantitative survey can be found in the power point presentation below:
Leading the Settlement SHEcovery - Presentation [PDF]

OCASI’s Initiative to End GBV is an important advocate for the development, implementation and evaluation of an intersectional lens in programs and services addressing GBV in Canada. We provide leadership in advocacy and research efforts that aim to support immigrant and refugee survivors of GBV at the individual and systemic levels, as well as through community engagement.

To learn more about some of our advocacy efforts, visit:

Current Partnership Projects

OCASI’s Initiative to End GBV is part of partnerships that bring different sectors and stakeholders to share information and strategies to build awareness around issues affecting immigrant and refugee women in the settlemetn sector.

To learn more about our partnerships and recent publications, please visit: