As members of The Canadian Federation of University Women, we believe in the power of women working together.
Our organization encourages its members to use their expertise to bring about positive change in the lives of women and girls, and in the broader society.
Advocacy has been an integral part of CFUW since its inception in 1919, and the organization has played a significant role in working for social change, with an emphasis on women's issues.
An Ontario-wide survey of clubs in 2019 identified the following significant concerns: health care, long term care; climate change; poverty, especially child poverty; affordable housing and homelessness; education and schools; early learning and child care; gender-based violence.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder - FASD
In 2015, CFUW clubs from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph proposed this resolution: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD.
Locally, we focus on informing and educating our members, and we add our voice to local issues. Information and education have been provided on regional recycling programs, as well as the benefits and importance of trees in our community, encouraging the planting of trees to support the local sustainable urban forest strategy.
Housing & Homelessness
We have reached out and interacted with a variety of social agencies and groups in the Region to learn about existing strategies and determine where we might fit in to help advocate for action on affordable and supportive housing in Waterloo Region. We organized target letter-writing campaigns.
We have heard stories of lived experience, of homelessness, of ‘renovictions’ due to gentrification and market speculation, and about the need for planning that includes greater public interest policies. Other cities in Canada are finding inspiration in the experiment of Housing First, which Finland has enacted with encouraging results.
The Region of Waterloo, in collaboration with our local cities, is developing a housing strategy to meet the demands of the growing number of homeless and precariously-housed people in our rapidly growing cities. Every demographic of society -- youth, seniors, the disabled, Indigenous people, and immigrants -- is affected by the scarcity of affordable and appropriate homes. Our club's Working Group continues to inform us on the possibilities for action in this vital area of our society.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder FASD
The resolution proposed: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD was adopted nationally at the AGM in 2016. In 2015, CFUW clubs from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph proposed this resolution: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Diagnosis, Intervention and Support Plan for Children, Adults and Families Affected by FASD.
The resolution was adopted nationally at the AGM in 2016.
A member of our club's FASD Working Group is working with the Waterloo Region FASD Action Group, which has estimated that $150,000 spent on FASD prevention could save $1.6 million in support costs. Bill 172, currently before the Ontario Legislature, is designed to legislate training and professional development related to FASD for all Ontario educators.
There are numerous Club policies on the protection of our environment. Locally, we focus on informing and educating our members, and we add our voice to local issues.
We have written letters and been active on social media to protect the water in our Region.
The designation of Kitchener, Waterloo and Wellesley Township as “Bee Cities” by Bee City Canada is another area of interest, to be explored more fully.
In the early spring of 2020, nearly 40 volunteers - mostly from our club, some from the wider community - worked to set up, organize, supervise and clean up this pop-up giveaway of clothes and accessories to community members in need. At 4pm on set-up day there was a stream of cars at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in downtown Kitchener. Volunteers, racks for clothing display, boxes of hangers, many cups of coffee, and bags and bags of donated clothing poured in. The next morning, in spite of the cold there was a long lineup of shoppers waiting to get in; until closing time, the door to the street was rarely closed.
More than 175 members of our community walked away with new clothes. It is the smiles on the faces of those people who found appropriate clothing for themselves, or warm clothes for their children, that remain with us.
We thank the Mennonite Central Community shop "Thrift on Kent" for their assistance again this year.
December 6 Vigil: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
Every year our club has organized a solemn service of remembrance for the 14 young women murdered at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989.
Gender-based violence pervades our society, and addressing this grave societal issue is a major focus of CFUW. Our K-W club's annual service has taken many forms, and in 2019 we mounted a well-attended commemoration with presentations by the Director of our community's Sexual Assault Support Centre, and by a spokeswoman on the subject of violence against Indigenous women.
This year (2020) the University of Waterloo and the CFUW K-W have partnered to create an online commemoration that was broadcast live on YouTube on December 4, 2020. Click here to view the 2020 virtual ceremony
Our national organization has produced a toolkit of information and strategies to help increase awareness of this issue, and to suggest possible actions. Every year there is a 16-day campaign of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which runs from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day. December 6th has been established as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. It is vital to remember that women's rights are, in essence, human rights.