Our Advocacy

National and International Connections


The University Women’s Club of Vancouver is a member club of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and CFUW BC COUNCIL, through which we are members of Graduate Women International (GWI).
vancouver seminar advocacy-presentation-speaker


In the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, we:

  • Regularly study issues relating to women’s rights and equality, the status of women, human rights, education and the environment
  • Host forums and work with other community groups on social issues such as prostitution & human trafficking, homelessness in our city, child poverty, election forums and more
  • Work to increase the safety of women on campus
  • Develop ongoing speaker series on women’s rights, education, health and community issues


Responding to the trauma of sexual exploitation

In September 2016 The University Women’s Club of Vancouver was one of the sponsors of two speakers from Germany & Sweden on International Approaches to Prostitution & Sexual Exploitation. Prostitution is a controversial issue around the world, including Canada. Dr. Ingeborg Kraus and Simon Haggstrom discussed the impact of the different approaches to prostitution adopted by Sweden and Germany. Speakers also examined Canada’s new prostitution law with a focus on Vancouver. The UWCV supports Canada’s laws on sexual exploitation, the Nordic Model, and calls for action to be taken in the implementation of the law.

The mandate of the University Women’s Club of Vancouver Status of Women & Human Rights Committee is to monitor human rights issues with specific attention to women’s rights and to advocate and take action where appropriate. In recent months we have advocated for action on implementing Canada’s laws on sexual exploitation, the Nordic Model and effective policies on sexual harassment on university campuses. Click here to read UWCV member and local Vancouver Sun reporter Daphne Bramham’s article on the issues with Vancouver’s current enforcement.

Read all about:

UWCV Joins CFUW BC Council in Study Circle Pilot Project on Youth Aging Out of Care in BC

Approximately 1,000 young people age out of foster care in BC annually. A recently released report from the Vancouver Foundation Fostering Change Initiative “Opportunities in Transition” provides an economic analysis of investing in youth aging out of Foster Care and demonstrates that significant annual costs – up to $268 million – are associated with the adverse experiences which many youth aging out of foster care at 19 encounter, while a much lower level of investment – $57 million per year – would be required to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Read about our Aging Out of Care project here.


Adrienne Montani – Lifelong advocate for Women & Children

The 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card has just been published. Packed with facts and real-life stories of BC families, it’s a valuable and poignant record of the reality that since the first report card was published in 1995 one in 5 children in BC still live in poverty.

First Call is the non-profit organization that spearheads this project and at its helm is Adrienne Montani, a woman whose finger is on the pulse of everything to do with children and youth in BC. It wasn’t always that way but changed, she says, when she had children.

Adrienne has been a social activist since 1976 and began her career in BC with the Surrey-Delta Immigrant Society. She has worked with Big Sisters, the Vancouver School Board and was elected to School Trustee, a position she held for five years and from which she derived some of her most fulfilling accomplishments:

“Our board prioritized protecting the most vulnerable students. We successfully mobilized and supported parents and educators to stop planned cuts to inner city school funding and put in place policies and practices to better support LGBTQ students and teachers in Vancouver schools.”

As a Child and Youth advocate for the City of Vancouver she worked with street youth, aboriginal and LGBTQ+ kids, and liaised with the Youth Council to foster initiatives to herald change. Now, with First Call for the past 10 years, she has dedicated herself to working for policy changes in legislation & government.

When asked what projects she has in mind for the coming year, she said this:

“In 2017 I will be working on the urgent need to improve BC’s protections for children and youth in the work force. Too few people are aware that since 2003 BC’s child labour standards have been dramatically lowered, putting the health and safety of these young workers at greater risk.  BC lowered the unpermitted minimum work age to 12 from 15, and government is not monitoring where 12 to 14 year olds are working.  When people hear about this and realize how negligent our government is in tracking children’s safety in the work place, they are shocked and question why we lowered our standards.  This can be easily fixed by a provincial government that is really committed to children’s best interests.”

A recent initiative at the University Women’s Club of Vancouver – study circles for Youth Aging Out of Care – was made possible by the collaboration of the Canadian Federation of University Women BC Council, First Call and the Vancity Community Foundation. “Social justice advocacy requires perseverance over the long haul, so finding kindred spirits to work with helps sustain us through the times when it feels like we’re not making progress.”

This is certainly true at the University Women’s Club of Vancouver where a number of committees work on various projects to create improvement in the lives of women and children.

Adrienne Montani has this to say about advocacy: “When women are motivated by their life experiences and/or a fire in their belly to challenge injustice — whatever their chosen issue — I encourage them to go for it! A question we can all ask ourselves is — if not me, who will step up?  The rewards of engagement and advocacy for reducing inequality and fighting injustice are continual learning, purpose in your life and, ultimately, a better world for future generations.  Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? ”

Author: Marlene Adam, UWCV member
Published January 2017


UWCV Advocacy Events

The University Women’s Club of Vancouver often hosts public events to commemorate and celebrate the following important dates:

March 8th – International Women’s Day
October 18th – Person’s Day
December 6th – National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Keep an eye on our calendar for more information on upcoming events.

Community Outreach Interest Group Speaker Series

This new UWCV members’ Interest Group works to enhance and support the awareness among Club members of local issues and develops and implements service projects to support people in the Vancouver community. As a beginning the group is hosting a number of speakers and recently heard from St. Paul’s Hospital – Karen Brown, Patient Support Fund, and Lucy Luongo on their “Providence in the Park Outreach Program” and Mary McGivern of the “One-to-One Literacy Society” about the Society and the volunteer tutors program. Recently this group participated in the Providence in the Park Program by contributing skincare and healthcare products and held a collection to contribute to St. Paul’s Hospital for patients needing clothing upon release from the hospital.

Last October we heard from Clare Jones, Director, and Erin Cavan, Manager of YWCA STRIVE a 12-week program for North Shore and Vancouver youth, ages 17-24, who are transitioning or have transitioned out of foster care. The program helps with life and employability skills to successfully transition into independence.


GWI has an ongoing relationship with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and recently, with the help of Geneva UN Representative Nina Joyce, GWI submitted its Education for All manifesto for consideration in the study and it has been placed on the OHCHR website. You can view the manifesto here.

Read about GWI’s project of education for young women through the “Teachers for Rural Teachers” project in Uganda.

On October 5th, 2016 World Teacher’s Day, Graduate Women International (GWI) called for greater empowerment of teachers to help achieve quality education of all students, including girls. Since teachers are the most influential factor in education for both girls and boys, gender parity in teacher recruitment is crucial. The GWI calls for safe environments, gender-equal remuneration and effective professional development opportunities for teachers around the world. Read GWI’s press release here.

The United Nations Human Rights Council met on September 20th for its annual discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples. The objectives of this panel meeting were to evaluate legal and policy responses to violence again indigenous women and girls, and to identify responses to the structural forms of this violence. Panelists included the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the President of the Sámi Parliament of Norway, the Director of Fundación Paso a Paso in Mexico, a representative from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Senior Indigenous Fellow and Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at Curtin University, Australia and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Read about it here.


Read about the Community Service of CFUW Clubs.

CFUW National AGM

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) hosted its Annual General Meeting and Conference in Richmond from June 22 -24 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel. In addition to learning and development opportunities, members gathered to vote on important business like whether CFUW should remain a member of GWI, approve the 2017/2018 budget, and adopt two new resolutions. Attendees were also treated to a variety of social events throughout the conference and heard from UWCV member and keynote speaker Daphne Bramham on Education: The Cure for Populism, Propaganda, False Prophets and Poverty. Read more about the CFUW AGM here.

CFUW Submits Brief to SOW Committee on Violence against Women


Our Status of Women Committee is currently studying violence against young women and girls in Canada. The Committee invited members of the public, civil society and other organizations to submit written briefs on one issue chosen from the options they outlined. As an organization built on advocating for the improved status of women and girls, CFUW instantly took interest. Our members care deeply about violence against women and the focus of our report was on violence faced by women on university and college campuses. You can read our submission here.

Read about the Status of Women Committee’s Study on Violence against Young Women and Girls in Canada here.


UWCV is affiliated with First Call: BC Youth & Child Advocacy Coalition, West Coast LEAF and the Vancouver Council of Women.
West Coast LEAF Responds to the National Inquiry on Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women – view the West Coast LEAF August 2016 News


Each month the UWCV Issues Café discusses events currently in the news and issues of interest to members of this Interest Group. Last month the Issues Café discussed “The Constitutional Challenge about Private Health Care Launched by the Cambie Surgery Centre, Dr. Brian Day.” Coming up we are discussing the “What a Green City Would be Like for Women.”


At the UWCV we are interested in current events and stories locally, nationally and internationally that affect women’s rights, equality, education and our environment.

October 16, 2017 – Buyers Beware: Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation 

Canada’s Bill C-36, Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), became law in December 2014, with the provision that it would be reviewed in five years. Canadians need to be educated about the law in order to be prepared to evaluate and make recommendations for its improvement and further enforcement.

Valiant Richey, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County, will be sharing his experience of working with the demand side of this exploitation, educating the public on awareness of strategies for enforcement. Canada’s current law criminalizing the buyers of sex is in alignment with the work that Valiant Richey’s office has undertaken and would be a great opportunity for educating our police forces and the general public.

West Coast LEAF – Ensuring Women’s Equality is Front and Centre

How temporary work is bad for workers, bad for government.

youngpeopletempemployment  Young people are right to be angry about Morneau’s acceptance of ‘job churn’

How benefits need to be redesigned to account for precarious or part-time work.

eraofprecariousemployment An era of precarious employment calls for a new social architecture

How companies must explain gender inequalities.

genderinequalities Investors must speak up about corporate gender inequality

Inside the world of human sex trafficking.

The Dangers of rebranding prostitution as ‘sex work’.

On December 6, 2014, the government of Canada enacted the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (known as Bill C-36), which holds the buyers of sex accountable, as well as any third party who benefits from commercial sexual exploitation.  With this legislation, Canada joined a number of countries that have already enacted similar legislation (Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Ireland) and a growing number of other countries currently deliberating demand-focused legislation that will make the buying of sexual services illegal: France, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Israel.

The Canadian Federation of University Women supports Bill C-36 and the “Nordic Model.” The buying of sex is sexual exploitation.



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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead