Category Archives: International Advocacy and Reports

#HumanTrafficking #EndHumanTrafficking

Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination. Of the estimated 21 million victims of human trafficking, 71% are women and children. Because most trafficked persons are never identified as victims, they are unable to access protection or assistance. (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons).

Victims don’t come forward for many reasons. They may fear for their lives or the safety of their loved ones, they may not realize that they are victims of human trafficking, they may have been taught to mistrust law and government authorities, they may fear detention and deportation, they may not speak the language, they may have been lied to about, or be unaware of, their rights in Canada.

In 2010, the General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, including the establishment of a UN Voluntary Trust Fund for victims of trafficking, especially women and children.

This year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons (July 30th) focuses on “Acting to Protect and Assist Trafficked Persons”, highlighting one of the most pressing issues of our time. The intensification of the movement of refugees and migrants since 2014 is the largest seen since World War II. Within these migratory movements are vulnerable children, women and men who are easy targets for traffickers and smugglers.

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) continues the series highlighting significant days to facilitate the conversation about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Our purpose is to overlay a recognized Theme Day with the SDG lens in order to shine a light on and bring the conversation to the grassroots level.

We believe change begins with consciousness. For this significant day, Trafficking in Persons we are intentionally making connections to SDG #4 – Quality Education, #5 – Gender Equality, #16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and #17 – Partnerships for the Goals (however, connections to any other SDG may be implied).

We invite you to read contributions on the subject of Human Trafficking by CFUW members and partners: World-Day-against-Trafficking-in-Persons_2017

Ottawa Resident Acclaimed Vice-President of the International Federation of University Women

susan_russell(OTTAWA – September 6, 2013) – The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) is proud to announce that Susan Russell, an Ottawa resident, has been acclaimed one of four Vice-Presidents of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) at their 31st Triennial Conference in Istanbul, Turkey.

IFUW is a leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels, of which CFUW is a national affiliate. The IFUW Triennial Conference in Istanbul this past August attracted nearly 500 members from over 60 national federations and associations around the world who gathered to discuss women’s role in achieving a sustainable future.

Susan Russell currently serves on the Board and Projects Committee of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, on the Trust of the National Association of Women and the Law, and Chairs the CFUW Resolutions Committee. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin University.

Ms. Russell is also a former Executive Director of CFUW and a national Life Member of CFUW. In 2000, she received a Millennium Award for her contributions as a volunteer and the National Capital Femmy Award for her contributions to women’s equality in 2011. Susan is a lifelong advocate for women’s equality with experiences that include: representing IFUW at the UN World Conference on Education for All at Jomtien Thailand; representing CFUW at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Education Committee for nine years; serving on the National Advisory Committee to the Government of Canada (Department of Foreign Affairs) prior to the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994) (ICPD); participating in the preparatory meetings for the World Summit on Social Development (Copenhagen 1995); and in the run up to the World Conference on Women, Take Action for Equality, Development and Peace (1995). She also co-authored the Girl Child section of the Canadian Plain Language follow-up document.

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. CFUW is the largest of the 61 affiliates of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW).

For further information contact:
Robin Jackson, Executive Director, Canadian Federation of University Women
613-234-8252 ext. 102 or

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

Seven Billion Actions

On 14 September 2011, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the 7 Billion Actions in New York to recognize that the global population will have reached 7 billion people, by the end of 2011,with women and girls comprising half of the world’s population.

He said that “a world of 7 billion has implications on sustainability, urbanization, access to health services and youth empowerment”. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), also said, “Population is about people. It is about embracing the dignity and human rights of every individual. In a world of 7 billion people, we need to count on each other”.

The 7 Billion Actions are challenges, opportunities and calls to action to recognize and celebrate our common humanity and diversity. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all to get involved with the campaign saying, “Small actions taken by each one of us, multiplied across communities, can create a better world”.  For example, one person can read to a child, visit with a senior, stand up for others and make someone smile. Organizations can meet the Campaign Objectives by “Building global awareness and Inspiring others to take actions that will have a socially positive impact”.

Visit to learn more and stay connected with; and Twitter hashtag: #7billion.

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:

IFUW March 8 2011 Update

100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day

Today, March 8th, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. When Clara Zetkin tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day, it was a very different world, with women demanding not only the vote in some countries but also shorter hours and better pay. A century later, we are still working for equality in many areas.   As we celebrate our successes, we must also re-commit ourselves to the task ahead. We have made progress, but much remains to be done… This Update gives a snapshot of the activities being organized by of some of our NFAs to celebrate what has now become a global event. Let us not forget those women, who had the courage 100 years ago to propose that every year women should celebrate on the same day to press for their demands.
Marianne Haslegrave, IFUW President

Launch of the Museo de la Mujer

The Federación Mexicana de Universitarias (FEMU) has chosen International Women’s Day for the official opening of their new Women’s Museum – “El Museo de la Mujer”. According to FEMU founding president and IFUW Vice- President, Patricia Galeana,  the museum aims both to offer a place where people can learn about the important role women have played in the development of the country, and to promote gender equality and women’s human rights.  It is only the second of its kind in all of Latin America.  Through photographs, texts, graphics and multimedia presentations, the exhibits will show situations confronting women and the feminist revolution from historical periods through to modern times. In addition to displaying the works of well-known Mexican artists, the museum will also feature a document centre and a specialized library.  We wish FEMU much success with this important initiative. 


Some of the Ways IFUW Members are Celebrating

  • In Switzerland a panel organized at the United Nations by Conchita Poncini, Coordinator or IFUW’s Representatives in Geneva, is addressing the theme of “Celebrating Women’s Rights: Higher Education – Pathway to Gender Equality and Decent Work”.  On the panel will be representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Labour Office Bureau for Gender Equality and the World Bank to share their views.    Marianne Haslegrave will speak on behalf of IFUW.
  • Members in Amsterdam will celebrate 8th March with a special evening gathering where older members of the Dutch Association (VVAO) in their 70s and 80s will talk with a group of younger members, sharing stories of their student and professional lives.
  • The Canadian Federation (CFUW) is encouraging members to participate in Oxfam’s 100 Letters for 100 Years of International Women’s Day.  To mark a century of women’s achievements, members are writing letters to the their local newspapers about a woman who inspires them; their wish for women living in other parts of the world, their wish for their daughter, niece, sister or granddaughter; the moment at which they became interested in women’s rights; or what we might celebrate on International Women’s Day in the next 100 years.

IFUW’s Status of Women Committee would like very much to hear about any activities your NFA or local group organized for International Women’s Day 2011.  You can send your short articles and photos to

Message from UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet

In her IWD message, Michelle Bachelet, said that she suspected that the courageous pioneers would look at our world today with a mixture of pride and disappointment. She noted that there has been an unprecedented expansion of women’s legal rights and entitlements, but despite progress over the last century, the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are far from being realized.  She pointed out that almost two out of three illiterate adults are women. Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys. Every 90 seconds of every day, a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications despite us having the knowledge and resources to make birth safe.  She  remarked that women continue to earn less than men for the same work. In many countries, they have unequal access to land and inheritance rights. Women still make up only 19 percent of legislatures, 8 percent of peace negotiators, and only 28 women are heads of state or government.  She stressed that it is not just women who pay the price for this discrimination. We all suffer for failing to make the most of half the world’s talent and potential. We undermine the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economies, the health of our societies and the sustainability of peace. This year’s IWD focus on women’s equal access to education, training, science and technology underscores the need to tap this potential.

For the the full statement see – .

IWD Message from the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, saluted the women of the Middle East and North Africa, along with women all over the world who are taking great risks to stand up and fight for dignity, justice and human rights for themselves and for their compatriots. She pointed out that in Egypt and Tunisia, women were on Twitter, on Facebook, on the streets, and marching alongside men, pushing boundaries and breaking gender stereotypes, just as eager for change, for human rights and for democracy.  Ms Pillay warned, however, that the work is far from over.  In these moments of historic transition, it is important to ensure that women’s rights are not set aside as something to be dealt with after the ‘crucial’ reforms are won. Women’s rights should be at the top of the list of new priorities. She noted that while women have played an important role in the call for change, concerns have already been raised that constitutional reviews and the development of reforms are undertaken without their full participation. Only when women participate fully in policy-making and institution-building will their perspective be truly integrated. The concept of democracy is only truly realised when political decision-making is shared by women and men, and women’s full participation in institutional re-building is guaranteed.

For the full statement see

International Federation of University Women
10 rue du Lac, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland¦

IFUW February 9 2011 Update

9 February 2011
New IFUW Programme for Action

We are pleased to announce the launching of the new IFUW Programme for Action (PfA) –
“The Power of Education in Effecting Change”.

The development of the PfA has involved our members through the on-line discussions and the input that was given during the conference in Mexico City. These ideas and suggestions have been “fine-tuned” by the Status of Women Committee, the members of which the Board wishes to thank for their hard work and innovative ideas.

The new PfA has four pillars or themes:

  • Education for empowerment and leadership
  • Education for freedom from violence
  • Education for financial independence, employment and entrepreneurship
  • Education for sustainable futures

These themes of the four pillars will form the basis of IFUW’s ongoing programme, one expected to last beyond the current triennium.

At the beginning of December 2010, we presented the cross-cutting focus chosen for IFUW’s international advocacy: “Education for the realization of the rights of women and girls”.  We hope that each national federation and association (NFA) will integrate all or part of the new PfA into their own programming and advocacy.
Marianne Haslegrave, IFUW President

What’s New on the IFUW Website

  • IFUW Programme for Action –
  • This section provides suggestions for subthemes and action for the new PfA. We encourage you to check back often, as the Status of Women Committee will be posting new material regularly.
  • CSW 55th Session
  • If you would like to know more about what will be happening at the 55th CSW Session, this page provides links to the key background documents, information about events IFUW is helping to organize, as well as a list of our delegation.
  • New IFUW Blog posting
  • Ardith Toogood, CIR of the Canadian Federation (CFUW), is  guest blogger this week on Civil society input for UN Women Beyond the First 100 Days.  She shares input that CFUW has made to the new UN Women consultation process.

Bina Roy Partners in Development (BRPID)
2011 Competition Underway

IFUW’s BRPID Programme is now accepting project proposals for the 2011 competition.  The deadline for applying is 28 February 2011. BRPID supports projects empowering women and girls through education and leadership development.  NFAs in developing countries with a per capita gross national income (GNI) of 10,000 USD or less are encouraged to apply.  The grants, ranging from 1000 to 2000 Swiss francs, will be awarded on a competitive basis and will cover a twelve-month period beginning 1 June 2011. The Projects Committee is delighted with the response and is looking forward to reviewing the proposals in March.

Participants in the successful 2010 BRPID Literacy Project run by the Egyptian Association
Young Women, Bright Stars

In a recent message to the IFUW Member’s Network, Michelle Imison shared an idea young members in Australia are trying.  After the conference in Mexico, and with the sense that other women’s organizations must be having the same difficulties as our NFAs in maintaining and growing our membership, she went home and made contact with the ‘younger’ chapters of UNWomen (then still UNIFEM) and Business and Professional Women in Sydney.  She hopes they can build mutually useful relationships and networks into the future – and they’re starting with a joint event on International Women’s Day, March 8th. It’s an evening, cocktail-type event with a speaker, lucky door-prize and raffle and lots of networking opportunities. They’re deliberately keeping ticket costs low (finger food and some drinks are included), but they still hope to have money left to split three ways for the three organizations’ women’s and girls’ education projects.  They are calling their event ‘Young Women, Bright Stars’.  This is an idea that young members in other countries could also try.
Michelle Imison, Young Member, Australia
Convener, IFUW Projects Committee

International Federation of University Women
10 rue du Lac, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland ¦