• By: OLM Staff

DIVA Foundation Empowers Women Through Education

“A wise person once said ‘show me a sick child and I will show you a sick woman,’” said Grace Betts, chair and president of Ottawa’s DIVA Foundation. “And if you continue, it should read, ‘show me a sick woman employee and I will show you a stressful, unhealthy and restrictive work environment.”

Women today take on a significant amount of responsibility, whether work commitments, raising their children and maintaining a household, to caring for their ageing parents and being dedicated volunteers within their vibrant communities.

“Women make up 52% of our population of the world – if we’re not healthy, given the extraordinary responsibilities we have in the workplace, home and communities, we can’t contribute and be the best we can be,” added Betts. “If women are operating from a place of deficit in terms of their health – mind, body and spirit, they are not in a strong position to help others. They need to be healthy to carry out and do all the things they want to do that are important to society. There’s a recognized gap in health status of men and women, particularly in the area of education and research.”

Dedicated to advancing, rewarding and celebrating the achievements that improve the health and well-being of women, the DIVA Foundation is a local non-profit organization, established in 1997 under a name exemplifying the power within every woman to be her best. In order to achieve this, women’s health – an issue that should be at the forefront of the desks of policy-makers, government officials and the like – is given little attention, despite astonishing recent statistics.

“If you look at research funding for women centric health problems, it’s less than the research dollars that are given to men’s health issues,” said Betts. “The reason for that is women are still not the major decision-makers in the government, legislature or the boardrooms.”

In fact, women are still living longer than their male counterparts, although life expectancy rates in Canada have increased, according to Statistics Canada. Baby girls born in 2005 can expect to live to age 82.7, while the rate for baby boys is 78 years.

“While women are living longer than men, they are doing so in a unhealthy way,” added Betts. “They endure health issues for a longer period of time, whether physical, mental or spiritual. For example, a single mother raising her children today has a huge burden financially to provide basic necessities and in turn, often works multiple jobs and has little access to supportive resources. This can last for many years until their children are able to live on their own.”

Women can be complicated, she admits, but in the sense that their influence and presence is felt in every sphere of our daily lives. Women can only be understood in terms of their relationships with their partner, family, children, friends and colleagues. Whether they work in a mentally toxic office environment or deal with the affects of pollution on their physical health, every area affects women’s capacity to be healthy.

To close the gap on women’s health and enlighten local communities on the benefits of healthy women, the DIVA Foundation is hosting a speakers’ series beginning May 19 on a host of topics from menopause to career advice under four pillars: physical, mental, financial and social health. The goal is to provide affordable education to women in Ottawa and also act as an opportunity to network and create new friendships. It is made possible through donations and funding generated primarily from the DIVA Foundation’s Golf Classic.

The DIVA Foundation 2011 Speakers’ Series:

  • · *Real Life Meets the Workplace: A Legal Primer (Thursday 19th May, 2011; 7-9pm; Southway Inn)
    Janice Payne, lawyer, Nelligan O’Brien Payne’s Employment Law Group
    Ainslie Benedict, lawyer, Nelligan O’Brien Payne’s Employment Law Group
    Julie Skinner, lawyer, Nelligan O’Brien Payne’s Employment Law Group
    Ella Forbes-Chilibeck, lawyer, Nelligan O’Brien Payne’s Employment Law Group
  • · *A Woman’s Heart in Health and Disease—Who is at risk and what can she do?

    Jennifer Spallin, Director, The DIVA Foundation

    (Monday 13th June, 2011; 7-9pm; Hampton Inn)
    Louise A. Laramée, MD, FRCP(C), University of Ottawa Heart Institute and University of Ottawa

  • · **The Menopause Story (Thursday 22nd September, 2011; 7-9pm; Hilton Lac-Leamy)
    Nathalie Gamache, MD, FRCPS(C), Centre de Santé pour Femmes GAÏA
  • · **Maternal Health and Well-Being in Canada and Abroad (Thursday 20th October, 2011; 7-9pm; Hilton Lac-Leamy)
    André B. Lalonde, MD, FRCSC, Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC), University of Ottawa, and McGill University
  • · *Get Real: The Secret to Authentic Success (Tuesday 15th November, 2011; 7-9pm; Hampton Inn)
    Patricia Lovett-Reid, Senior Vice President with TD Waterhouse Canada Inc.

* Presentation is in English
** Presentation is in French


Ticket Information:
General admission: $25
English series: 3 tickets for $65
French series: 2 tickets for $45
5 tickets: $100
Students: $10
Seniors: $15
Email tickets@divafoundation.org or call Darlene at 613-444-0123.



The DIVA Foundation’s Golf Classic takes place Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 at Loch March Golf and Country Club.

*18 holes of golf in a scramble format (with cart) *Golf clinic with professionals and BBQ lunch *Silent auction and dinner

Tickets: $200 for complete event or $70 for dinner only.

Contact 613-730-3535 or www.divafoundation.org for more information.