Monthly Archives: December 2013

Give the Gift of Equality and Social Justice This Holiday Season

If you’re still looking for gifts to give to family and friends this holiday season, why not consider making a donation in their name to one of the many organizations improving the lives of girls and women here in Canada and abroad? Charitable donations also make excellent birthday gifts throughout the year!

A few options to consider:

The CFUW Charitable Trust, which funds Fellowships and Awards for Women (Canadians and Permanent Residents) pursuing graduate studies.

Canadian Women’s Foundation is the only foundation in Canada that specializes in helping women and girls move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence through community programs, and support for hundreds of women’s shelters across the country.

Girls Action Foundation supports empowerment programs for girls, training for educators, and seed grants for young women change-makers in Canada. They ensure all our projects reach girls & communities who benefit most from their support, and that’s why 90% of the girls & women who participate in their programs come from marginalized communities.

Inter Pares is an organization dedicated to promoting international social justice, with a focus on women’s rights. In Canada and overseas, they support people’s struggles for peace, justice, and equality; their efforts to challenge structural obstacles for change; and their alternative development approaches.

MATCH International Women’s Fund is a first of its kind grant-making organization based in Canada that funds women’s rights organizations around the world to make lasting changes in the lives of women and girls. The fund supports projects that dismantle barriers, change systems, challenge perceptions and transforms societies.

Oxfam Unwrapped is a unique source for charitable gifts that provide supports to people and communities in developing countries. For example, your donations can build a well for an entire community, school books for children, or a goat for a family, among others. You can also give to specific Oxfam programs and projects such as the Marion Dewar Fund that supports training and development for women and girls’ leadership in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, or a project that supports women farmers in Nicaragua.

Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope to Support Girls is another ethical gift-giving program with over 40 gifts to choose from, with 15 that specifically support girls. You’ll also receive free personalize greeting cards with your purchase.

The Malala Fund is the official organization led by Malala Yousafzai focused on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education around the world.

YWCA Canada is the country’s oldest and largest women’s multi-service organization. Their Turning Point Programs for Women address personal safety, economic security and well-being, reaching out to 1 million women and girls across Canada. They are also the largest national provider of shelter to women, children and teen girls.

You could also consider giving to organizations serving women and girls in your local community, such as your local women’s shelters and transition houses, sexual assault support centres, women’s centres, drop in centres, your local YWCA and other programs that support women and girls, such as through leadership development and economic empowerment.

Of course this list is not comprehensive, so please share yours ideas in the comments!

A Gender Neutral Gift Guide For Children

Many toys on the market today are extremely gendered and can reinforce gender stereotypes. While some companies are trying to change their products and marketing by offering more gender neutral options, it can still be difficult to navigate the toy aisles. If you’re looking for some gender neutral gift options for the children in your life, particularly this holiday season, we’ve compiled a list of toys that don’t conform to the traditional pink vs. blue, Barbie vs. trucks norms. Hopefully this list helps stimulate further ideas, which we would love to see in the comments section!

Ages 0 – 3

  1. Nighttime Nursery Rhymes: A Bedtime Shadow Book. $11.69. This book contains transparent pictures which you shine a flashlight through to project the images onto the wall as you read to your child. A fun and interactive way to introduce your toddler to classic nursery rhymes.
  2. Radio Flyer Grow ‘N Go Tricycle. $59.99. Every kid loves riding a tricycle, and this trike’s easily adjustable metal frame enables it to grow with them so you can get use out of it for years to come. Also contains a convenient storage bin at the back for toys
  3. LEGO DUPO My First Deluxe Box of Fun. $39.99.  This set makes the perfect introduction to LEGO building fun, with a range of classic and special DUPLO bricks.
  4. Melissa and Doug High Sea Symphony. $29.99. Four easy grasp wooden instruments to help promote fine motor, auditory and creative expression skills.

Ages 4 – 6

  1. Large Standing Easel. $79.95. Let your child explore their artistic side with this versatile standing easel. It features a dry-erase board on one side with a chalkboard on the other. It is equipped with attached cup holders for convenient loading of art mediums.
  2. Electronic Drum Set. $59.99. This electronic drum set includes a smart phone or MP3 player holder, and can connect to your device so kids can play along with their favorite songs.
  3. Goldie Blox. from $19.99- $109.97. Goldie Blox is a book series and construction toys that aim to boost girls’ spatial, engineering, and problem-solving skills. While Goldie Blox’s packaging and accessories are still quite gendered, it is a step in the right direction and is worth a mention.
  4. Pelican Sizzler 36″ Sled. $22.99. For fun in the snow, this sled features maneuverability and precision for a single rider with hand levers that change direction and brake. For kids ages 6 and up.

Ages 7 – 9

  1. Hape Pallina Game. $79.95. A fun game the family can enjoy together that encourages creative problem-solving. The goal is to remove sticks without dropping any of the balls. This will keep kids of all ages entertained.
  2. Easy Bake Ultimate Oven (Black). $54.99. After a girl in New Jersey started a petition asking for an oven that appeals to all kids, Hasbro unveiled a unisex version that shows both girls and boys on the packaging.
  3. Big Bag of Science. $39.99 This kit contains over 60 different experiments in a reusable bag.  Blast off with a soda explosion from a Geyser Tube‚ learn about the science of polymers including giant spheres, growing crystals, and Insta-Snow, learn about acids and bases, or even make your own slime…
  4. Royal  Brush and Langnickel Sketching and Artist Set. $43.31. The beginner art sets have everything you need to start creating what you have always dreamed. This set includes a “how to” guide with step-by-step instructions, teaching you how to apply your new found skills.
  5. Maps. $40.00. This book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis. It features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet.

Ages 10 – 12

  1. Little Passports. $131.40 + $20 shipping for 12-month plan.Get your child interested in geography and international cultures, as well as learn about their own, with Little Passports! The first month, your child will receive a fun travel suitcase with a world wall map, passport, activities, and access to more online games. For every subsequent month, they will receive a new adventure letter for a new country to explore.
  2. Apples to Apples Junior. $21.99.Teach your kids to have fun with their friends and family while learning! Apples to Apples Junior is a game of comparisons that will further develop your child’s vocabulary and analytical skills.
  3. Fabric Screen printing Kit. $49.95. If your child is into fashion and design, foster their creativity with this fabric screen printing kit by Mindware. The kit teaches your child the basics of screen printing and various techniques. Your child can make clothes, paper prints, textile art, and more with this gift.
  4. A Class – Give the opportunity to try something new, or perfect a skill to the next level. There’s cooking, music, drawing, pottery for the artistically inclined, rock climbing, acting and more.

Looking for more ideas? Check out this Girl Empowerment Gift Guide from A Mighty Girl.

Canada Needs a National Action Plan on Violence against Women

OTTAWA – December 5, 2013 – On Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) will be commemorating the 14 young women who were senselessly murdered at École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989 and calling for stronger federal measures to address gender-based violence.

“As we take pause to reflect on the inequality and beliefs that caused the École Polytechnique tragedy twenty-four years ago, we are reminded that violence continues to be a reality for far too many women and girls across Canada every day”, said Susan Murphy, President of CFUW.

 One in 3 women in Canada will experience some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime.

Not only does violence jeopardize the security and wellbeing of women and girls, it also has a large economic impact on survivors and Canada as a whole. Statistics Canada and others have estimated the cost of intimate partner violence and sexual violence at $7.4 and $1.9 billion respectively, including the costs of social services, healthcare, the justice system, and lost productivity.

“Ending violence against women is priority for CFUW,” said Ms. Murphy. “Our members across the country are working on a diversity of projects to prevent and respond to violence against women in their communities, and at the national level we continue to advocate for more effective responses from government. While there are many worthwhile initiatives current underway in our communities, Canada must adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach to help address the root causes of gender-based violence. This is why we are calling on all federal political parties to support the creation of a National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls”.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has called on all member states to develop National Action Plans on Violence Against Women and Girls by the year 2015. Several countries including Australia already have national plans underway. A recent report released by the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses, “The Case for a National Action Plan on Violence against Women”, clearly demonstrates Canada could be doing much more. The Government of Canada however, continues to deny the need.

Each year, the CFUW Fellowships Program also offers two École Polytechnique Commemorative Awards, totaling $12,000, to outstanding graduate students whose research or area of study is related to women.

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace.


For more information, contact: Tara Fischer, Advocacy Coordinator, 613-234.8252 ext. 106 or


Bill C-13 Ignores Gender-Based Violence as a Root Cause of Cyberbullying

Legislation has been introduced via Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, that will criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images online. This bill is delivered to the Canadian public after an onslaught of tragic tales of cyberbullying and violence, particularly amongst the youth population.

While this effort may act as somewhat of a deterrent, as well as provide legal ramifications for cyber bullies, it is certainly not a fix for Canada’s cyber violence problem. The bill ignores  the many root causes of the issue, particularly gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

Cyber ‘bullying’ is very often sexual harassment conducted in an online setting. However, employing the term ‘bully’ instead of ‘sexual perpetrator,’ for example, ignores any gender connotations present in the issue.

Using the term ‘bully’ is also guilty of infantilizing the matter. The word traditionally conjures the image of kids behaving badly. Unfortunately, the experiences of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, both of which resulted in their self-inflicted deaths, prove that cyberbullying is much more serious and is a real threat to Canadian girls and women. For instance, a 2011 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that boys who are “bullies” are nearly four times as likely to be physically or sexually abusive as adults.

Eyes are on the Government of Canada and how they can improve the online safety of girls and women. The Status of Women Canada (SWC) recently issued a call for proposals for programs and initiatives that will eliminate or reduce cyber bullying and sexual violence. While this is a positive step, the SWC only provides short-term funding and not every community will be supported.

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and other related organizations on the other handhave been advocating for a National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls. This development would seek to comprehensively address all forms of gender-based violence, including the issue of online gender violence by having the federal, provincial, and municipal governments and stakeholders collaborate to establish long-term, multi-sector, initiatives aimed at preventing cyber harassment of girls and women.

At CFUW’s 2013 Annual General Meeting, members echoed the need for all levels of government to cooperate in finding resolutions to this problem. Other suggestions to the Canadian government from CFUW members were that they raise public awareness on the topic of cyberbullying and violence and conform to the legal sanctions in place; integrate programs on bullying and cyber violence into training and core curriculum for educators and counsellors so that they are able to identify and take steps to resolve it in their institution; and encourage such institutions to offer workshops to parents and caregivers on recognizing cyberbullying and teaching anti-bullying strategies.

CFUW membership also suggested the Canadian government consider and utilize the six recommendations of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights reports on “Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age,” published in 2012.

The six recommendations include the levels of government cooperating with each other and related stakeholders to develop strategies; establishing consistent definitions of cyberbullying and messaging on the issue; conducting long-term research on cyberbullying that will give new insights into its contributing factors as well as new initiatives in combatting it. Unfortunately, Bill C-13 will only address Recommendation #4, which calls on the federal government to work with industry stakeholders in creating strategies to protect children online through removing or blocking inappropriate content.

Current efforts, such as those of the SWC mentioned above, are useful and important to the cause of cyberbullying and violence. To end cyber violence against all girls and women, however, requires an honest and in-depth look at the underlying perceptions, attitudes, and social trends that are creating cyber bullies and developing strategies to confront them.

In a letter to the Minister of Justice and Minister of Status of Women Canada dated December 2, 2013, CFUW raised these concerns and recommendations with the government.