Monthly Archives: March 2014

Political Leadership Needed to End Violence against Indigenous Women Says CFUW on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CFUW calls on political leaders in Canada to intensify efforts to end violence against First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls in Canada.

Ending racial discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls must be a shared responsibility of government institutions, political leaders, grassroots organizations and citizens. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights chose the theme “The Role of Leaders in Combatting Racism and Racial Discrimination” this year to highlight the key role that leaders must play in mobilizing political will.

Tragedies such as the recent homicide of Loretta Saunders, and the growing number of missing and murders indigenous women clearly point to the need for transformative solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Like other organizations, CFUW hoped that the Special Committee on Violence against Indigenous women, convened by the House of Commons, would illuminate such solutions. Unfortunately, the recommendations offered in the Committee report released on March 8, 2014 fall significantly short of what was expected, and received broad criticism from indigenous and human rights organizations for merely “staying the course” on current government initiatives.

The special committee report did not indicate that the Government of Canada is willing to initiate a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, or develop a national action plan to address violence, which the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations maintain are steps that must be urgently taken.

The United Nations has also criticized Canada repeatedly for its underwhelming response to violence against Indigenous women and girls. In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued recommendations in its Concluding Observations (pp.8-13) to Canada’s Nineteenth and Twentieth Reports of Canada on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples urged Canada in the fall of 2013 to initiate a Public Inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, and Canada’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review of its Human Rights obligations culminated in calls from multiple countries to initiate a public inquiry and develop a comprehensive national action plan on violence against women and girls, with a particular focus on indigenous women and girls. The report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review can be accessed here.

The violence indigenous women and girls experience in this country is connected to the broader discrimination that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Canada continue to face. In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) issued 440 recommendations calling for sweeping changes to the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and governments in Canada. Today, the majority of these recommendations have yet to be implemented.

It is clear that current approaches are not working, and Canada needs our political leaders to step up to the plate today and every day to implement and build on the recommendations from the RCAP, UN and Indigenous leaders to end discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls.

UNCSW 58: Perspectives on Technology, Safety, and Violence Against Women and Girls

By: Alice Medcof, CFUW Delegate at the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

I attended the parallel event “Perspectives on Technology, Safety, and Violence Against Women and Girls”, conducted by the Director of National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), who works closely with the creators of Facebook and is an expert in internet technology.

At the session, participants were told about Spyware, which can be loaded onto anyone’s computer or handheld device without the owner knowing.  For example, if an estranged husband has been ordered to stay away from his children the following can happen: the husband can download a spying application onto her phone without her knowing, read all emails and texts, listen in to all conversations, search her device’s calendar, etc, and then leave her a message saying “I know what you are doing today.” …..and you can imagine the rest….

NNEDV trains police officers, lawyers, judges, politicians when invited to do so.  This programme is based in the United States and has affiliates in Australia, United Kingdom and elsewhere.  It has also done work in Canada.

For more information see the website

CFUW at the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

Susan Murphy, CFUW President

Today is day 4 of the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and most of CFUW’s 14 delegates have now been in New York since Saturday for the occasion.  For many in our group it is a new experience, and a very confusing one. What is a parallel session? How about a side event? What really happens here at the UNCSW?

I have not been here for long, but during my first trip to UNCSW last year I was so fortunate to room with Mary Scott, a Past President of the University Women’s Club Winnipeg, and the representative for the National Council of Women Canada (NCWC) who has been attending for a number of years and is very knowledgeable.  Mary is very generous in sharing her knowledge and I soaked up as much as I could.

This year’s priority theme of the session is the challenges and achievements in the implementation of the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls, that are coming up on fifteen years; eight goals were announced in 2000 with high expectations of alleviating poverty by focusing on these MDGs.

Faith and BlaisTo kick off an exciting two weeks, CFUW was pleased to attend the reception at the permanent Canadian Mission to the United Nations on March 10th. This gave some of our delegates the opportunity to meet other NGOs from Canada, as well as the official Canadian Delegation, including Minister Blais, Status of Women, New Bruinswick, pictured here with Faith Matchett of CFUW Moncton. The Minister of Status of Women Canada, Kellie Leitch was the guest speaker and Irwin Kotler MP from Montreal and human rights activist attended. Some of our delegates were able to sneak a photo with the Minister.

CFUW with Minister LeitchThese two weeks are devoted to conversation circles, panel discussions, presentations, official statements and negotiations on Agreed Conclusions focused on the priority theme that governments can support. Today the formal negotiations begin on the Agreed Conclusions among Member State negotiators, and CFUW with NCWC, has offered a second set of suggestions on priorities this morning to Status of Women Canada. I will attend the European/North American Caucus this afternoon, where the draft Agreed Conclusions will be a topic of discussion.

Hally and LeliaYesterday was CFUW’s and WG-USA’s joint parallel session entitled Universal Primary Education by 2020: In Peril for Girls? Hally Siddons and Leila Metcalf (r) are pictured here just before the session and the second photo of Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs and her assistant responding to a question. They were joined by a woman from UNICEF and one from the Permanent Mission at the UN. It was an excellent workshop, one that CFUW can be proud of.

Minister Fawzia

The Deputy Minister of Womens Affairs Fawzia Habibi and her assistant as she responds to questions from the audience about the coordination that her Ministry provides in Afghanistan to all other Ministries regarding women and girls.

So far this has been a very interesting and exciting, as we meet women from all over the world. The other evening I met a woman from Kabul University in Afghanistan who knows both Dr. Simar and Nasima by chance, as I spoke to another new friend from San Francisco who belongs to Women Graduates-USA and is very involved with making cities CEDAW friendly….not the right term…but better for women and girls.  I will check this out more when I get home.

I am really happy to be working with our colleagues from IFUW while we are here – all for a good cause. The IFUW group has delegates from England and Wales, WG-USA, Nigeria, Finland, Australia, NZ, Bulgaria, and Rwanda.  Such different perspectives and all so interesting and committed. 

UN women ED

Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, speaks to the important role of men and boys in the rights and equality of women.

Shaila Mistry from WG-USA and Susan Murphy, CFUW President, on Wednesday morning at the briefing by UN Women.  Shaila is part of our delegation and a long standing participant at CSW.

Shaila Mistry from WG-USA and Susan Murphy, CFUW President, on Wednesday morning at the briefing by UN Women. Shaila is part of our delegation and a long standing participant at CSW.










If you’re not a member of CFUW’s Facebook group yet, make sure you join to get updates from UNCSW in real-time. We will also be compiling a newsletter when we return from UNCSW, so keep an eye out for that!

Susan Murphy, President of CFUW

Fun and Games on IWD 2014

Mary Butterill

Editor, CFUW-Ottawa Capital Carillon

facebook bannerOn Saturday evening, March 8, 2014, over 300 people (mainly women of all ages, some men and a few children) attended the 6th annual International Women’s Day event held in the auditorium and foyer of Library and Archives Canada at 395 Wellington. With a theme inspired by The Hunger Games books and movies, the free and fun event was co-hosted by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld (in English) and WUSC’s Alexandra Baril (in French). It featured a Feminist Activism Fair, a short cross-country video of feminist champions, a “What the F!” skit to review the feminist year, and the 2014 Femmy Awards. Claudette Commanda (Executive Director of The First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres and part-time professor at the Institute of Women’s Studies and the Aboriginal Studies Program at the University of Ottawa)gave the traditional opening and welcomed guests to the unceded Algonquin territory. As well as free child care, the event generously offered a wide array of delicious sweet and savoury refreshments (some provided by Thyme & Again), beverages, and a cash bar.  Music was provided by DJ Jas Nasty and DJ Daisy.

CFUW (National) partnered with Amnesty International Canada, Inter Pares, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Oxfam Canada, Planned Parenthood Ottawa, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and World University Service of Canada (WUSC) toorganize the event. Additional sponsors included the CBC, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), MATCH International Women’s Fund, Nobel Women’s Initiative, and Suzy Q Donuts.

The 2014 Femmy Awards honoured four local individuals and one organization for their contributions to women’s equality: Dillon Black, Marian De Vries, Denise Jessica Freedman, Hollaback! Ottawa, and Diane McIntyre.

IWD 2014 at LAC 03 (4)

Janice, CFUW Member Services, Tara, CFUW Advocacy Coordinator, and Nancy DeVillers, CFUW Ottawa President

CFUW-Ottawa members Mary Butterill, Nancy DeVillers, and Charlotte Rigby helped Tara Fischer, CFUW Advocacy Coordinator, and Janice Pillon, CFUW Membership Services, at the Feminist Activism Fair, answering questions, taking photos, and handing out promotional material. New at the Fair this year was a concerted effort by participating organizations to engage with attendees on feminist issues. In keeping, CFUW highlighted and encouraged dialogue on publicly funded child care. Child care outside the home became an issue in Canada in the 1960s. The 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommended a public program to encourage greater gender equality. Since 1972, CFUW has adopted several policies in support of affordable, accessible, quality child care and early learning.  Proponents of publicly funded child care such as Quebec’s seven-dollar-a-day program, claim that the resultant increase of women in the work force increases the income and consumption taxes collected in government coffers and strengthens the economy.  As well, studies indicate improved educational, health, and social outcomes for children in such programs.

CFUW Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD), taking place on Saturday, March 8th, 2014, is an extremely significant event to women and feminists globally. It is a reminder to the world to pause to celebrate women and consider how further progress can be had for females around the world.

The first IWD was held on March 19th, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.  After this event, other countries in Europe caught on and began recognizing the day annually. Later, in 1975, the United Nations (UN) declared it International Women’s Year. Only two years later in 1977 did the UN officially instate an annual International Women’s Day, to be taken place on March 8th.

This year, the UN has elected the theme: “Equality for women is progress for all.” The focus is on the improvement of economic and social conditions through gender empowerment and the important role of women as innovators.

From this theme, Canada has chosen a more specific theme: “Strong Women. Strong Canada. Canadian Women – Creating Jobs One Business At a Time.” The emphasis is on women entrepreneurs, how they contribute to the Canadian business landscape, and how their development can be fostered and supported.

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, CFUW has raised funds for projects and programs in developing countries for IWD. Last year, the organization raised over $4000 for the International Federation of University Women’s (IFUW) Bina Roy Partners in Development (BRPID) Programme. This year, CFUW and its various national clubs and chapters will be supporting the BRPID Programme once again

CFUW Clubs organize a diversity of events and fundraisers across the country to celebrate IWD, but our National Office is also involved in organizing the Feminist Games in Ottawa, a lively get-together to celebrate IWD. Head to the Library and Archives Canada at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 8th, 2014, for entertainment, food, cash bar, and childcare for free! It will be a great night out and an excellent opportunity to support women’s rights. Along with CFUW the event is organized by Amnesty International Canada, Inter Pares, Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Oxfam Canada, Planned Parenthood Ottawa. Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and World University Services of Canada (WUSC).

The UN is holding an observance at their headquarters in New York on Friday, March 7th, 2014. If you’re interested, check out the webcast.

If you’re looking for something easy to fill your time this weekend in Ottawa, Wall Space Gallery is featuring young female artists from Saturday, March 8th, 2014 to Sunday, March 30th, 2014

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day this year?