Meet “n” Greet : Speakers – Teri Shaw, V.P. of Advocacy and Barbara Wallace, V.P. of International Relations, CFUW National: CFUW: “Have we had an impact?”
Location: 7:00 p.m., University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus, 125 St. Patrick Street, Stratford.
Guest Speakers: Program Chair Pat Reavy introduced the evening’s speakers:
Teri Shaw, Vice President Advocacy and Brenda Wallace, Vice President International Programs, CFUW Canada.
Teri was has been a CFUW member since 1991, initially at CFUW Montreal-Lakeshore, later at CFUW Oakville. She held several Chair positions at CFUW Ontario (Resolutions, Legislative, Advocacy) and for the past four years served on the executive at the National level. Brenda is a Regina native and served on the executive of CFUW Regina, then at the provincial and national levels. She was instrumental in the recent re-writing and updating of the Articles and Bylaws for CFUW National, which provincial and local clubs are currently using as the basis for review of their documents. Brenda recently returned from meetings in Istanbul, and has been CFUW Canada’s representative at the United Nations since 2010, where she speaks on matters relevant to the status of women.
The topic for their presentation was “ CFUW: Have we had an impact? ” or, as they put it,
“ A short but telling history of us! ”
Ms. Shaw began by stating that we have done a lot, much more than you might expect. In 2012 alone, CFUW distributed more than one million dollars in scholarships and fellowships across Canada. CFUW contributes substantially on other levels, by providing a forum for the intellectual stimulation and social interaction of Canadian women of all ages, and by active participation in community outreach programs that support literacy and women’s rights, especially in education and family law. Successful advocacy for women requires both persistence and patience, because one cannot predict when the ‘tipping point’ will occur, as in paraphrase of the proverb: “A drop of water does in time wear away stone.” CFUW Canada was formed at the end of the First World War in 1919. (For more history see http://www.fcfdu.org/en-ca/aboutus/cfuwhistory.aspx). Margaret McWilliams, CFUW Canada’s first president established our commitment to community outreach, especially championing literacy and education for women, in part through establishment of scholarships, and pay equality for working women. CFUW was the first organization to operate a vocational bureau for women and compiled a roster of women who were competent for public office, including appointment to federal boards and commissions. While largely ignored at the federal level, these initiates did have impact locally and this emphasis on national co-ordination for local action has continued to today. More recently CFUW clubs have campaigned for accessibility to quality childcare, gun control, tougher tobacco laws, and against female genital mutilation. Our network is our strength. CFUW was instrumental in changing family law across Canada, following the 1975 ruling that stripped Irene Murdock of the Alberta ranch inherited from her family as a result of divorce. The 2009 Ontario pesticide ban, followed similar moves in many municipalities in response to local CFUW lobbying efforts. It was CFUW president Laura Sabia’s efforts that resulted in establishment of the first Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada in 1967, also the first RC to be chaired by a woman. CFUW national continues to organize roundtable discussions among women’s organizations to strategize on women’s issues and ensure the economic security and safety of women and children.
Ms. Wallace went on to outline CFUW’s role in International Affairs, often through actions undertaken by IFUW. As early as 1921, when Madame Curie visited the United States, CFUW made a substantial contribution to the fund raised by women to support her research using radium. In the 1980’s Theodora Carroll-Foster, an Asian Canadian instituted liaison with the Asian Federation of University Women to champion sustainable development in Asia. CFUW was also instrumental in Ottawa’s development of a landmine protocol that has been adopted worldwide. CFUW’s urging resulted in an all-party motion in parliament in support of universal women’s rights, prompted by Afghanistan’s policy of death for women deemed to have shamed the family’s honor. Canadian Dr. A Vibert Douglas, president of IFUW from 1947-1950, stated that IFUW promoted fellowship among people of many nations and high standards of education and integrity in scholarly endeavors. She challenged UN members to examine the gap between the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and practices in member countries. Current IFUW projects include the Hegg Hoffet Fund for Displaced Women Graduates that assists university women displaced as a result of war, political upheaval or social injustice, in finding relevant employment in their newly adopted countries. Bin Roy Partners in Development Grants and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund provide support for projects empowering women in developing countries through education and development of leadership skills. The University Women for Afghan Women initiative works to ensure the safety of Afghani women who are promoting education for females in that country. CFUW Nova Scotia nurses Jean Sarson and Linda MacDonald have campaigned in Canada and Geneva for a non-state actor torture policy, i.e. laws against torture committed by common citizens, for example in abusive domestic situations or human trafficking. This is consistent with the direction taken by the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which has moved from raising awareness about violence against women (and children) to developing strategies to stop it. The CFUW and IFUW have used their status at the U.N. to the keep the pressure on in order to further these initiatives.
CFUW Canada has existed for 94 years and remains a strong voice for women in Canada and abroad because of the support and activities of local clubs like Stratford CFUW.
Katharine Gunnel Gavin thanked the speakers, whom she described as ‘CFUW Royalty,’ for coming to Stratford and sharing their stories of CFUW and IFUW. In our 60th year it is important to be reminded of CFUW’s role in support of women’s education and as an advocate for fair treatment of all persons. In honour of their visit and our Anniversary, Teri and Brenda were asked to join founding members Betty Drake and Betty Jean Davis in cutting a celebratory cake to be enjoyed during the break.