Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)/ Fédération canadienne des femmes dîplomées des universités (FCFDU)

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Adapted from materials from the CFUW-FCFDU website

The Canadian Federation of University Women – La Fédération canadienne des femmes diplômées des universités (CFUW-FCFDU) started in 1919 as part of an international women’s peace initiative and then quickly became an independent, self-funded Canada-wide advocate for promoting higher education for women and to improve the fundamental rights, freedoms and opportunities for girls and women at home and internationally..

The role played by the CFUW-FCFDU is not well-recognized, but by the 1960’s, as a force of over 100 clubs women from all parts of the country, CFUW-FCFDU became an active participant in advising and recommending critical social and political changes at both the provincial and national levels.

CFUW-FCFDU  initiatives from the late 1960s to the 1900s include

  • As President from 1964 – 1967, Laura Sabia brought together a coalition of 32 women’s organizations across the country, demanding that the government “pursue the human rights of women in Canada” and threatening a march of 2,000,000 women on Ottawa if the government did not establish a Royal Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission was set up in 1967 and presented its report in 1970. The CFUW continued to play an active role in presenting briefs to the Royal Commission.
  • In the early 1970s CFUW wrote letters on abortion, Aboriginal people, environment and status of women.
  • Many CFUW clubs took part in 1975, International Women’s Year
  • Later in the 1970s members and clubs are encouraged to take an active role in advocacy and leadership on issues such as Family Property Law Reform and elimination of gender stereotyping in schools.
  • Ruth Bell, President of CFUW-FCFDU from 1973-76 served as Vice President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Dr. Bell was also a founding member of Match, the Legal education and Action Fund (LEAF), Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) and UNESCO’s Sub-Commission on the Status of Women
  • In the early 1980s, CFUW advocated to ensure that equality for women was entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. CFUW also supported the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Canada on December. 10, 1981
  • Clubs sponsored conferences, workshops and seminars on a study and action program called “Women’s Work and the Reality of Tomorrow”. Resolutions focus on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, pornography, pension reform and peace and security as they affect and concern women.

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