Dear friends and supporters,

Headshot of Paulette Senior, Canadian Women's Foundation President and CEOThis year marks the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Thirty years ago, eight visionary feminists banded together with a conviction to help lift the voices and resources for Canada’s movement for gender equality.

Today, you carry the torch they lit. As supporters of Canada’s public foundation for gender equality, I want you to be proud of what you have accomplished. In 1991, the Foundation started with $50,000, granting it out to gender equality programs. Today, the Foundation has granted over $133 million to over 2,000 impactful gender equality programs in every province and territory in the country.

This achievement is the result of your tireless collective support!

The impact of the Canadian Women’s Foundation is fueled by the generosity of our donors and partners. As one of the few public foundations in the country, the funds you commit every year are essential to the grant programs and systems and policy change work of the Foundation as Canada’s voice for gender equality. And the grassroots programs and change work you fund make a difference for thousands of individuals, families, and communities.

This is your legacy for a better Canada for women, girls, and gender-diverse people.

In 2021, your action is more important than ever. You have been essential to the health of gender-equality organizations serving as hubs of support and care in local communities. Your donations keep doors open at a critical time. And you fuel calls to action for a gendered recovery in our nation.

Because you know and act on the facts: when women thrive, entire families, communities, and nations thrive.

It’s been over a year since the start of pandemic lockdowns. It’s clear that the COVID-19 virus has not created gender inequalities but has worsened them, uncovering the underlying problems. It’s clear that the path forward must be one toward gender justice.

There is no vaccine for gender inequality.

But I rest assured in gratitude for tireless people like you who rise up to meet the needs of today and focus on long-lasting systemic change for tomorrow.

At this difficult time for so many, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

Tireless alongside you,

Paulette Senior
President and CEO
Canadian Women’s Foundation


Christine Gresham, Canadian Women's Foundation monthly donorAs the gender inequalities of the pandemic became clear, Christine Gresham took action and became a monthly donor to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Like many of us, she’s concerned about women who are heavily burdened right now and the impacts that trauma and setbacks will have on them and the next generation of girls. She’s concerned for struggling women-owned businesses, women who have had to leave the workforce for child- and elder-care responsibilities, and what it means for women’s influence.

“I worry that old stereotypes will return,” she says. “I also worry that teenage girls and young women who have had their confidence rocked by the isolating effects of the pandemic won’t rise to their full potential …”

These gendered issues are so pressing right now, and they are huge. For some people, the sheer scope of it understandably overwhelms and immobilizes them and makes them feel stuck.

We are thankful for people like Christine who stay the course and focus on what they can do. “Organizations like Canadian Women’s Foundation are providing tangible solutions,” she says, “and by supporting them I feel as though, in some small way, I’m part of the solution. When things feel out of control (as they do at the moment!), it’s comforting to feel like your support and your choices matter.”


  • March 2020: Women account for 63% of the 1 million jobs lost and 70% of losses by workers aged 25 to 54 (Statistics Canada).
  • April 2020: 1 in 10 women reports being very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. Women’s shelters and organizations sound alarms (Statistics Canada). Women’s labour force participation dips to 55% for the first time since the mid-80s (RBC Economics).

  • May 2020: University-educated immigrant women experience the largest unemployment rates, 7.3 percentage points higher than previous year (Statistics Canada).

  • June 2020: Calls for police service related to domestic disturbances increase by 12% between March and June (Statistics Canada).

  • July 2020: The gap between fathers and mothers going back to work goes from 0.8 to 7.3 percentage points for parents of school-aged children (Canadian Public Policy).

  • August 2020: 63% of people in Canada are concerned about women facing more exposure to COVID-19 due to work in high-risk service and care industries (Canadian Women’s Foundation).

  • September 2020: 71% of Canadian women report feeling more anxious, depressed, isolated, overworked or ill because of increased unpaid care work caused by COVID-19 (Oxfam).

  • October 2020: Shelters and transition houses experience a 61% increase in calls from June to October (Women’s Shelters Canada).
  • November 2020: A 55% jump is reported in the number of mothers who worked less than half their usual hours, when compared to the previous year. Childcare responsibilities are cited as a key reason (Statistics Canada).

  • December 2020: The unemployment rate for women of colour rises to 10.5% compared with 6.2% for white women (Statistics Canada).

  • January 2021: Women are more likely to report their mental health as bad or very bad, especially between the ages of 18- 34 (Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies).

  • February 2021: 10 times more women than men have fallen out of the labour force since last year (RBC Economics).

  • March 2021: New research shows that 160 women and girls were killed by violence in 2020. More data on cause is needed, but this rise from 2019 is a red flag (Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability).


Emergency Grants

With the support of the Government of Canada, emergency grants were launched to help organizations address gender-based violence and deal with an influx of people seeking support due to an increase of violence in the pandemic.

So far, 683 grants totaling over $23 million have been granted out to organizations all over Canada. Soon, 150 to 170 more grants totaling $7.5 million will be distributed.

Organizations that have received this critical emergency support include SOFIA House in Saskatchewan, HOPE Outreach in British Columbia, and South Asian Women’s Centre in Ontario.

And it has helped in many ways. Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre in New Brunswick, for instance, used the grant to extend their housing programs, support frontline staff with high risk of exposure to COVID-19, reach more women escaping violent situations, and update their digital systems to manage the bump in community need for their services.

Northern Strategy Update

Bolstering gender justice efforts in the north begins with stronger community relationships and better understanding of the uniqueness of the region.

In partnership with MakeWay Foundation, we have been honoured to support the launch of a Northern Women and Girls Advisory Committee with representatives from Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut. This dynamic Committee provides leadership in Northern grantmaking and has already opened doors so the Foundation can support three excellent initiatives:

Northern Birthwork Collective, as it starts up and creates an Accessible Doula Support Program and Indigenous Doula Training. It will offer culturally safe, gender-inclusive, whole-family and one-on-one care, as well as work to increase the number of doulas across the territory and revitalize traditional birth and perinatal practices.

Akpaliapik Program of Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council, to be piloted in Rankin Inlet to help girls 9 to 13 gain life skills and mentorship and confidence-building opportunities, based on four Inuit Maligait principles working for the common good, maintaining harmony and balance, respecting all living things and continually planning and preparing for the future.

Messy Book Program of Arctic Rose Foundation, as it expands reach and benefits to girls and young people aged 12 to 19 in North Qikiqtaaluk, Arctic Bay, and Pond Inlet through an after-school program.


Due to your generosity and the partnership of The Body Shop and donor Margaret Newall, $200,000 was raised between November 23 and December 31 for “Out of Violence” grants all over Canada.

The impact of your donations comes at an urgent time of rising risk of gender-based violence. It’s a risk that has played out in many ways for organizations we support all over Canada. For example, Grantee Partner and Executive Director Andrea Silverstone at Sagesse in Alberta says that, in the beginning of the pandemic, there was a drop in requests for support–women felt stuck in violent situations. This meant a big bump in need later on, as well as a rise in lethality.

To learn more about gender-based violence in different communities you support, watch our panel discussion with some of our Grantee Partners.


Image showing Signal for Help hand sign to signal need for help on a video call.
The Signal for Help is a one-handed gesture you can make on a video call to communicate you need someone to safely check in with you.

Since the Foundation launched it in April 2020, the Signal has gone viral.

The Signal for Help video has been viewed on YouTube over one million times, and news about the Signal has been shared millions of times by media and through social media. A 2020 poll found that about one in three people in Canada know of or have seen or used the Signal. And it is being or has been shared in 44 countries, including Japan, Italy, England, the US, Brazil, and France.

Check out the article about the Signal on Upworthy.

FOREVER TIRELESS: Celebrating 30 Years of Impact for Gender Justice

  • 1991: After two grade school friends Nancy Ruth and Susan Woods dream big to build philanthropy for gender equality, eight founding mothers launch the Foundation. Beverley Wybrow begins as President and CEO. The Foundation raises and gives $50,000 in grants to six organizations.

  • 1996: The Women and Economic Development Consortium brings together donors to commit $2.4 million for women’s self-employment programs. Since Foundation’s launch, over $3 million is raised and 46 programs are funded.*

  • 1998: The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Canada’s first woman Prime Minister, speaks at annual fundraiser.

  • 2001: More than $9 million is raised and 287 programs are funded since the Foundation’s launch.*

  • 2002: National Teen Forum on Violence Against Women and Girls brings programs on dating violence and healthy relationships together to share best practices.
  • 2003: National Skills Institute is launched to strengthen the network of women’s organizations.

  • 2004: Michele Landsberg Award is launched to recognize young women’s leadership through activism.

  • 2006: Shelter From the Storm campaign raises funds for women’s shelters throughout Canada.

  • 2008: Women Moving Women campaign supports 2,500 to women move out of poverty.

  • 2010: Canadian superstar Anne Murray is presented with the Sisterhood Soirée Leadership Award.

  • 2011: Ann Southam legacy gift amounts to more than $17 million, the largest individual donation ever made to a Canadian women’s organization. More than $50 million is raised and 437 programs are funded since the Foundation’s launch.*

  • 2012: The Leadership Institute, in partnership with the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, delivers leadership training to women in the non-profit sector. More than 70 women are trained over three years.

  • 2013: National task force on trafficking launches to research, strategize, and give grants to end sexual exploitation.

  • 2015-2016: As We Are and #GirlPowered campaigns are launched, focusing on girls’ empowerment. Get Consent campaign is launched to challenge sexual violence.

  • 2017: Partnership with AfterMeToo addresses the growing need for sexual violence services in Canada. The Gender Equality Network Canada brings more than 130 women leaders together to plan for the advancement of gender equality. More than $80 million is raised and 1,500 programs are funded since the Foundation’s launch.*

  • 2018: Law professional, activist, and author Anita Hill speaks to trailblazing advocacy on sexual harassment at The Exchange.

  • 2019: The Foundation develops a strategy to expand impact in Northern communities.

  • 2020: The Signal For Help addresses rising risk of gender-based violence in the pandemic.

  • 2020-2021: Over $34 million is secured for emergency pandemic support for gender equality organizations.

    *Number of programs funded is approximate and influenced by timing of our granting processes.


A Gendered Lens for the Federal Budget

The 2021 federal budget will be released on April 19. It’s the time to look for key investments in advancing gender equality, with an intersectional feminist lens and a gender-based-plus analysis.

In the budget consultation period, the Foundation brought forward key recommendations, grounded in what has been happening in communities throughout Canada. This includes a recommendation of $500 million invested into organizations that prevent gender-based violence, including $20 million for Inuit women’s shelters, creation of high-quality care economy jobs in women-majority workforces through designated federal transfers, and $2 billion investment in a national childcare system.

Read the full budget submission.

Beyond the Pandemic: Gender, Intersectionality, Leadership

Canada has celebrated women’s leadership in the pandemic. But diverse women, trans, Two Spirit, and non-binary people still remain vastly underrepresented in professional and political leadership roles in Canada. Our latest Resetting Normal Report gives direction for policymakers to clear the path to positions where women can affect change. Without the voices of Black, Indigenous, and racialized women and gender-diverse leaders, policy decisions will sustain systemic oppression and further marginalize underfunded, underserved communities. Diverse leaders are critical to real, lasting pandemic recovery and gender justice.

Read the full report, co-authored by Platform, a civic leadership platform for Black, Indigenous, and racialized young women and gender-diverse youth, and contributed to by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.

The Global Stage
UN Commission on the Status of Women

United Nations Council on the Status of Women event graphicThe UN’s Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. We’re honoured to have been included in the 65th session, held virtually in March, along with other partners in Canada’s gender equality movement.

We facilitated a panel on breaking barriers women face to public and civic participation, featuring our grantee partners at EntrepreNorth, Community Resource Centre (Killaloe), Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste, and Scarborough Women’s Centre. We also participated in a discussion on the critical importance of feminist movements and leadership to advance gender equality. Our co-panelists included the Government of Canada’s Women and Gender Equality Department and the Equality Fund.


Changing Policy

Woman holding video cameraEnding workplace sexual harassment requires several levels of action, and in the context of this pandemic, the situation gets even more complicated. That’s why we were eager to participate in the Roundtable on Workplace Sexual Harassment with Canada’s Minister of Labour, the Honourable Filomena Tassi. We shared the research, highlighted the experiences of vulnerable workers, and spoke to solutions.

Digital Tools for Survivors

A shocking 92 per cent of people surveyed in performing arts, film, and television industries have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in their workplaces. These industries are known for precarious, non-unionized, and gig-based jobs, which can leave workers especially vulnerable to harassment with little recourse. The Canadian Women’s Foundation and AfterMeToo are collaborating to build a first-of-its-kind online platform to help survivors navigate options for reporting and pursuing justice. It breaks down legal jargon and procedures, offering plain-language information about relevant provincial and territorial laws. Originally founded with the arts sector in mind, it will be applicable to workers in all Canadian industries. In the leadup to launch, expected this summer, free virtual training sessions will be held for employers in performing arts to empower them with tools to comply with sexual harassment legislation. More training for workers in other sectors will follow.


Beth Malcolm: In Pursuit of Gender Justice

Beth Malcolm, outgoing VP Community Initiatives, Canadian Women's FoundationWhen we think about the pursuit of gender justice in Canada, we think about our colleague and friend, Beth Malcolm, who has worked at the Canadian Women’s Foundation for 16 years.

As a feminist mentor and ally, she has demonstrated unwavering commitment. Her impact is woven into everything we do: grant making, policy- reform work, championing of feminist philanthropy, and efforts to raise diverse voices for change.

Beth will soon retire from her role as Vice President of Community Initiatives. At the same time thatWhile we will miss her presence, her impact will continue to be felt by grantees, donors, partners, and team members alike.

She has been utterly tireless for gender justice. She has emboldened us to be tireless too.

If Beth’s drive stands as a source of inspiration for you, please make a gift to mark this moment and help the Foundation raise $150,000 towards our gender justice and systems change efforts.

Beth always says that we can’t just aim to help people in crisis. Historical injustices that lead to crisis must be addressed too. After a year of setbacks for gender equality, the time for change is now.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Malcolm/Dawson family, every dollar you give will be matched by two dollars, up to $100,000. Every $1 you give will become $3 to advance gender justice!

Welcome to Anuradha Dugal

We’re so pleased to announce that Anuradha Dugal is starting in the role of Vice President of Community Initiatives at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Formerly the Senior Director of Community Initiatives and Policy at the Foundation, Anu is a respected leader in the gender justice sector in Canada and has established deep, trusting cross-sector partnerships in many diverse communities. Her proven commitment to advancing gender equality for all women, girls, and gender-diverse people is well-known to many feminist leaders, advocates, service providers, and activists.

We’re so excited and honoured to welcome Anuradha to this role as she prepares to take the baton from our outgoing Vice President of Community Initiatives, Beth Malcolm. We look forward to how Anuradha and her impactful team will carry forward the vision of building a gender equal Canada.


You Moved for Gender Justice

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, you “Made Moves for Gender Justice”. And you went above and beyond!

You blew past the $100,000 goal. By the end of March, due to your incredible generosity, $157,000 was raised for systemic change efforts in Canada. Remarkable!

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of the individual, foundation, and corporate donors who made this possible, as well as the Malcom/Dawson family for their transformative matching gift. Your giving fuels the Foundation’s critical work to address dire reversals of gender equality gains in 2021. After a year of living in a pandemic, diverse women, girls, and gender-diverse people are feeling the effects: unprecedented economic instability, childcare crunches, precarious work on the front lines, increased risk of gender-based violence, risks in long-term care, and more.

But when we come together to make change, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. Thank you for your continued generosity to help carry Canada forward from gender inequality to gender justice.

Women + Wealth Virtual Gala

Women and Wealth Virtual Gala 2021Over 500 women celebrated their journeys to empowerment and leadership at this year’s Women + Wealth virtual International Women’s Day Gala. And they took action as they came together, raising more than $37,000 for the work of the Canadian Women’s Foundation! Thank you to Raintree Financial Solutions and event organizers and sponsors. Special thanks to phenomenal host Carrie Doll, as well as the inspiring lineup of speakers, Sarah Nicole Landry, Chau Lui, and our own Paulette Senior. We can’t wait to gather with these wonderful supporters again next year.

Corporate Canada’s Role

When it comes to advancing gender equality, we all have a role to play. This International Women’s Day, with the partnership support of Abliminal and supporting sponsor Ernst & Young Global Limited, we hosted Corporate Citizenship for Gender Equality to share strategies for building workplace cultures and practices that make a lasting impact. Thank you to our speakers and facilitators from Catalyst Canada, RBC Foundation, The Body Shop Canada, Abliminal, Hillberg & Berk, and Ernst & Young Global Limited, along with Foundation team members.

Watch the recording:

Board Leadership Updates

Many thanks to the outgoing members of our Board of Directors, who have volunteered their time and expertise to the strength and growth of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

  • Danielle Bisnar
  • Kristin Blakely-Kozman, Past Chair
  • Jennifer Flanagan
  • Shawna Hoyte
  • Jody Johnson, Past Co-Chair
  • Marilyn Roycroft
  • Paula Smith, Past Treasurer

We would also like to extend a warm welcome to new members joining us this year:

  • Jas Kaur Hothi
  • Peggy Moss
  • Sarah Robinson
  • Meenu Sikand
  • Olivia Sobey
  • Sandy Vander Ziel


"Mother Rising" bannerJustice for your mother. For your mother’s mother. For the greats and the great-greats. Rise up for our future mothers. So they reach heights that you never could.

Intensified economic instability, overwhelming child and elder care concerns, risks on the frontlines, rising risk of gender-based violence, historic reversals of 30 years of gender equality gains. In light of the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, diverse mothers across Canada need more than Mother’s Day gifts.

Mothers need gender justice to rise.

This May 2021, join The Mother Rising and rise up for gender justice.

Your Thoughts and Ideas Help Make Change

As a dedicated donor to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, have you filled out your “My Impact” survey yet?

Your thoughts, ideas, and perspectives are so important to us. They help us understand what people like you – people who care about building a gender equal Canada – want to prioritize to build better futures for all.

And your answers will help us understand how we can inspire more people to catch the vision too. That’s so critical at a time like this. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts!

Join Us: Women of the Pandemic Online Book Draw and Discussion

Women of the Pandemic Book

Friday April 30, 2021, 12:00 PM EST
With Author Lauren McKeon and Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation

Host: TPL Culture

In Lauren McKeon’s new book Women of the Pandemic: Stories from the Frontlines of COVID-19, the author revisits the early months of the health crisis through the eyes of several women whose perseverance and resilience helped Canada navigate the global pandemic.

“When we decide that we, as human beings, are the priority, everything else will follow from that decision.”
– Paulette Senior, quoted in Women of the Pandemic: Stories from the Frontlines of COVID-19

Join McKeon in conversation with Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, as they discuss this important new book, and enter the draw to win your own copy.