Category Archives: Actions

Canada Needs a National Public Transit Strategy

Public transportation is vital to the economy, environmental sustainability and quality of life in Canada. Yet, Canada is the only G8 Country without a national transit strategy. With  many of Canada’s cities ranking low on the Board of Trade’s annual Scorecard on Prosperity on all transportation issues, and 40% of existing federal investments in municipal public transit set to expire, it is time Canada developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to public transit planning and investment.

Since the early 1990’s CFUW has supported the position that all levels of government should invest in public transportation to ensure frequent, reliable, convenient, affordable and universally accessible services.   This is why CFUW has endorsed Olivia Chow’s Private Member’s Bill C-305, An Act to Establish a National Public Transit Strategy. The Government of Canada can and should take a leadership role in developing a national transit strategy with the participation of provincial, territorial and aboriginal governments. CFUW has called on the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to support this important legislation on September 19,2012 when Bill C-305 is scheduled for a vote in the House of Commons. Join us in supporting Bill C-305 by visiting  to send a letter to your MP and sign a petition.

For more information, visit:

Launch of International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict

We are excited to share news with you about the launch of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict with a Week of Action May 6-13. We at CFUW are thrilled to be a member of the first ever collaboration between Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict areas to stop rape.

As you may already know, challenges to collecting data on rape in conflict persist, but the numbers are alarming. From Congo and Kenya to Burma and Colombia, everyday rape is used as a weapon to humiliate people and tear apart communities.

The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict unites us—organizations and individuals—into a powerful and coordinated effort for change. We will demand urgent and bold political leadership to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and call for justice for all—including effective prosecution of those responsible.

Take the personal pledge today to support the Campaign at or

Please help us spread the word : Make sure to connect with the Campaign online during the Week of Action May 6-13.

Visit the website:

Find the Campaign on Twitter:!/stoprapecmpgn. Always use the hashtag #IPLEDGE to show your support for the Campaign and share the action you will undertake for the Campaign.

Find the Campaign on Facebook:

Thank you for your support !

Together & united,

Canadian Federation of University Women

Amnesty International: End Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Nicaragua

Rape and sexual abuse are widespread in Nicaragua. More than two thirds of reports to police from 1998 to 2008 involved girls under the age of 17. Many girls do not speak out, fearing that they will be blamed. Many also do not receive the support they need to recover and seek justice. Instead, most girls suffer in silence.

Amnesty International has met with many survivors of sexual violence in Nicaragua and we wanted to provide an avenue for them to share their stories and speak out. We have launched a new website: which includes the stories of survivors and women’s rights advocates, as well as more information on access to justice, shelters, and support in Nicaragua.

We are also inviting our members and supporters to take a second essential action of sending a much needed message of solidarity to women and girls in Nicaragua, by creating a virtual butterfly. We chose the butterfly image because of our work with women’s rights defenders in Nicaragua. Martha Munguía, the Executive Coordinator of the Nicaraguan Alliance of Women’s Centres told Amnesty International,

“For us, the butterfly is a symbol of the desires to realise our dreams, to spread our wings and multiply into so many women and girls that can fly like butterflies from one place to another, from one country to another, fighting with strength for our rights.”

Individuals can use the online tool to create a butterfly message that Amnesty International will deliver to the women and girls of Nicaragua for them to use in demonstrations in September.

This year is Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary, and we are focusing on ending sexual violence against girls in Nicaragua as a global action for our members around the world. More details on our global campaigns is available on our new website:

Empower women and girls in Zambia to fight poverty!

 CFUW is supporting CARE Canada’s Zambia Country Office for the CFUW International Women’s Day Project 2011.

It’s not too late to support this project!  Donations can be received until June 2011—so you still have time to raise funds and make a difference for women and girls in Zambia!

Thank you for your continued support of CARE’s cause.

Learn more here.

Susan Russell, former CFUW Executive Director, honoured for her work

OTTAWA, March 9, 2011 – Susan Russell, who served as the Executive Director for CFUW’s National Office for over 11 years, was honoured with a “Femmy” award for her years of feminist activism.  Russell received her “Femmy” last night at Ottawa’s annual International Women’s Day celebration.

Russell has been a tireless advocate for the rights of women in Canada and abroad.   During her term as Executive Director, she leveraged the collective power of the Canadian Federation of University Women to lobby for a Canadian foreign policy that recognized the distinct situation of women in situations of conflict and disaster.  As a member of the Ad Hoc Coalition, she contributed her expertise and her time to ensuring that women’s voices were part of democratic debate in Canada.

A special mention was made for Russell’s commitment to mentoring younger women – her friendship, advice and support is always given with selfless generosity. Women of all ages, from different backgrounds and experiences have all found encouragement, camaraderie and a mentor in Russell.

The event, celebrating 100 years of International Women’s Day, was the perfect venue to honour Russell’s dedication and fierce passion for gender equality and human rights.

Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail

Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail responding to For the free, educated and affluent, welcome to the century of women (March 8, 2010)

To read the original article, click here.

Wente’s argument that all western women have made it and enjoy full equality ignores the reality of many Canadian women who are not, as Wente suggests in her title, “The free, educated and affluent.”

For many Canadian and Western women; free, educated and affluent are not words that could describe their experience. The stats confirm what women can tell you themselves; inequality is real.

Wente claims we are free, while so many are still abused and raped. Canadian women are 4 times more likely to be murdered by their partner than men, and our Aboriginal sisters continue to go missing and are killed without outrage or action.

Wente argues we are educated, but ignores the barriers to access education. Young people from the poorest 20% of Canadian families are less than half as likely to enrol in university as the richest 20%, and for aboriginal children who have $3000/student less in funding for basic education than non-aboriginal kids, Wente’s argument could not be further from the truth.

For affluent women, equality has always been closer to their reach. For women who enjoy that privilege of economic independence and stability, life is not so bad.

However, Wente has blinded herself to the economic disparity that has deepened over the last thirty years in this country.  Women are the new face of poverty; single parent homes headed by women face high poverty rates, in part due to more unstable and underpaid part-time work and lack of access to affordable housing.

Wente’s article has a point; for women who are free, educated and affluent, equality and opportunity have never been better. But that leaves one question to be asked… who are these women? Because a lot of us have been left out.


Brenda Wallace, CFUW National President

Support Bill C-393: Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime

What is Bill C-393 all about?

In 2004, Parliament responded to the urgent need for medicines in many developing countries by creating “Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime” (CAMR), with the goal of getting affordable medicines to people in the developing world. Unfortunately, that laudable initiative was, and is, seriously flawed.

But now there is a chance to fix it! Bill C-393 aims to reform CAMR and make it easier to easier for Canada to export affordable, life-saving, generic medicines to developing countries. It is our best hope for fixing CAMR, but it faces fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and some MPs. Bill C-393 could help thousands of people in developing countries survive — especially children.This is an important humanitarian issue that transcends partisan political differences. All Members of Parliament and all parties should be united in making it work.

The future of CAMR — and the lives it could save — depends on you. Join us in applying pressure on Canadian parliamentarians to support Bill C-393. Download our latest update and urge your local MP and Party Leaders to support the “one-licence solution”.

The time to act is NOW. You can also get more involved by sharing this campaign with your friends and colleagues and help us get the word out. Read the key documents below to find out more about CAMR and why it needs to be reformed through Bill C-393.

To read more, click here.

Save the Afghan-Canadian Community Center

As recently noted in the Toronto Star, Government of Canada funding for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) is set to end on February 28th, 2011. Without renewed funding, the ACCC will need to take urgent steps to cut costs: we will need to lay off teachers and close classes, closing the door on higher education for many brave Afghan women.

A cut-back of the ACCC would be a huge loss to the women of Kandahar, the nation of Afghanistan and the Canadian taxpayer. Dollar for dollar, the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA’s) investment in the ACCC has been one of the most effective development projects in Kandahar province. As a result of Government of Canada support, the ACCC has more than 2,000 students and graduates and more than 4,000 total beneficiaries.

With a further investment of $650,000 and a new facility, we can bring the ACCC to the point where it will not need further government support. This is a small price to pay to ensure a lasting legacy for sacrifices made by Canadians in Kandahar.

To help, please write your Member of Parliament (MP) and express your support for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

Click here to send a letter to your MP.

100 letters for 100 years of International Women’s Day

This March, Oxfam Canada is celebrating inspiring women who achieve against the odds.

Women like Dr. Bogalech Gebre, who helps other Ethiopian women access health care, avoid female genital mutilation, and protect their daughters from bride abduction.

Or Jeannette Urquilla, whose organization helped lead the campaign to push for a law against femicide in El Salvador.

Or Rosaline Presence, who helps monitor and change the abysmal living conditions that have become the standard for far too many female farm workers in her country.

Let’s make sure that this celebration of a century of women’s achievement doesn’t pass unobserved. We want you to help us mark 100 years of International Women’s Day by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Some suggested themes:
A woman who inspires you;
Your wish for women living in developing countries;
Your wish for your daughter, niece, sister, granddaughter, etc.;
The moment at which you became interested in women’s rights;
What we might celebrate on International Women’s Day in the next 100 years.

Click here to send your International Women’s Day letter to the editor.

Support the Act to Eliminate Poverty

You can support the Act to Eliminate Poverty with this petition:

This is an old fashioned paper petition, not an electronic one like we usually ask you to sign. This petition conforms with House of Commons rules so that it can be presented in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament. There is a 15 minute period in the House of Commons Agenda every day for MPs to present petitions. MPs are honour bound by parliamentary tradition to present petitions from their constituents, whether they agree with the petition or not.

By asking as many MPs as possible to present this Bill C-545 Petition we can send a strong message to the MP and to Parliament that there are many voters in his or her riding and across Canada that care about poverty and want their government to take leadership to do something about it.

If this act is passed, the federal government would be required to develop a poverty reduction plan that includes reduction targets and timetables. It requires that the plan be developed with input from civil society groups and people living in poverty. The act also requires regular reports on progress.

Act now and urge your MP to support Bill C-545, an Act to Eliminate Poverty.