Federation of Women Teachers of Ontario (FWTAO)


The Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) was founded in 1918 to represent and promote the interests of women elementary school teachers in Ontario. 

Over its long history, the FWTAO advocated for the rights of women teachers and, starting in the late 1960s, became involved with the emerging feminist movement of that period.  This included work with the Committee for the Equality of Women in Canada, and later, support for the formation of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.  In 1985, under the leadership of then-President Kay Sigurjonsson, the FWTAO also helped fund the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). These organizations, and others the FWTAO became involved with during these years, played important roles in winning court and legislative victories on issues such as equal pay, affirmative action, and maternity leave and pay. At a time when the collective bargaining rights of teacher unions were limited, these campaigns were particularly important.

As a women-only union, the FWTAO also offered unique opportunities for members to become involved in leadership roles and advocacy and to address sex-role stereotyping in the education system for both students and for teachers. This included challenging expectations that women teachers would resign once they got married or became pregnant, and attitudes about women in administration and leadership roles.

In 1996, following several court challenges by the Ontario Public School Teachers Federation, FWTAO and OPSTF were merged to create the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

Related Issues and Actions Pages

Labour Movement and Women’s Equality


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Federation of Women Teachers of Ontario (FWTAO)

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