Youth and Philanthropy Initiative FAQs

Thank you for selecting the Canadian Women’s Foundation as the charity for your project!

We are so grateful for your interest in advancing gender equality in Canada. 

To assist you with your project, this page answers key questions you may have and provides links to where you can learn more.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a national leader in the movement for gender equality in Canada. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, we work to achieve systemic change.

We support women, girls, and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership.

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We want to build a gender-equal Canada. Two terms that are helpful to know:

Gender Equality: UN Women explains it as “equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities” for all genders. It doesn’t mean that everyone should be the same. It means that peoples’ rights, responsibilities, and opportunities shouldn’t depend on their gender.

Gender Justice: Global Fund for Women defines it as the redistribution of power, opportunities, and access for people of all genders. Achieving gender justice means that all women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people get the full rights, support, and respect that they deserve. This includes being paid fair and livable wages, safety from violence and harassment, representation in all levels of decision-making, and every opportunity to thrive.

The Foundation was officially launched in 1991. A group of eight trail-blazing women was instrumental in getting it off the ground. Two of these women in particular, Nancy Ruth and Susan Woods, had started conversations several years earlier when they saw there was no national organization in Canada for people who wanted to advance gender equality. They wanted to change that.

Read the full story and learn about the 8 trail-blazing women.

Our organization aims to bring awareness about the unique issues that women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada face. We focus on addressing four urgent issues:

  • Economic Security: 5 million women live in poverty in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2019)
  • Gender-based Violence: 160 women and girls were killed by violence in 2020 (Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, 2021)
  • Girls’ Empowerment: Between the ages of 9-13, girls become less confident and are more likely to say they are feeling depressed (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2008).
  • Inclusive Leadership: Only 4% of Canada’s largest publicly traded companies have a woman CEO (Grant, 2021).

Gender inequality does not just affect women, girls and gender-diverse people. It ultimately affects everyone.

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The Foundation does not provide direct services to the public. Rather, we raise funds from generous people like you and then deliver grants to community grassroots organizations throughout the country that provide services to women, girls, and gender diverse people in four main areas:

Out of Poverty: The Economic Development grants reduce gendered poverty and build economic strength for those who need it most.
Out of Violence: The Teen Healthy Relationships and Rebuilding Lives grants invest in programs that prevent and intervene in situations of gender-based violence.
Into Confidence: The Girls’ Fund supports programs that give girls and non-binary youth tools to develop into confident, resilient people.
Into Leadership: We work to strengthen the leadership of women, girls, and gender diverse people through our granting as well as through research and systemic change efforts.

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The Canadian Women’s Foundation launched the Signal for Help in response to COVID-19. It is a simple one-handed sign someone can use to silently show they need help and want someone to check in on them in a safe way.

The Signal for Help went viral on social media and is now being shared by partner organizations around the world. It has also made global headlines because it has been used by women experiencing situations of immediate danger.

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The Canadian Women’s Foundation launched its Signal for Help Responders campaign, which is now a community of over 27,000 people who have signed up to learn how to better respond to someone experiencing abuse and violence and to help shift the culture of stigma around gender-based violence to a culture of support.

Learn more at

Each year, thanks to our supporters, the Canadian Women’s Foundation makes a measurable difference in communities across Canada.
In our 2021-22 fiscal year, we funded over 500 programs throughout the country, impacting over one million lives!

These programs can change individual lives, and ripple outwards through their families and communities. Here are just some examples of impact stories:

“I left the program with so much more confidence than when I started. That was a huge part of my healing journey as an Indigenous woman going into business.” Vashti Etzel participated in a business program through EntrepreNorth that honours Indigenous entrepreneurs’ cultural ways of knowing, being and doing, which helped Vashti take her wearable art business to the next level. EntrepreNorth has received funding from the Foundation since 2018.

“Every morning, I was so grateful. I remember thinking, ‘I can breathe, I can sleep in peace…’ ” After leaving an abusive relationship, Sofia* didn’t know how she and her young son would move forward. With the support of a women’s shelter that received support from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, she began taking the first steps toward a brighter future. She eventually went back to school to become a community service worker and ended up coming back to work at the shelter to support other women in their journeys.

“I no longer worry about what others think of me, because now I know the only person I need to impress is me.” When she was 12, Amar lacked confidence. Then she discovered the Something for the Girlz program, which received funding from the Foundation. It would change her life forever, so much that she also has volunteered as a mentor in the program to help other young girls.

*Name changed for privacy.

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There are several ways you can help the Foundation:

Donate: Even $5 makes a difference and will go towards helping us support vital community programs throughout the country.

Fundraise for us: Organize a small event with your friends, family or classmates. It can be a bake sale, book club, movie night. It is a great opportunity to bring people together, raise awareness about gender inequality and raise money to support our work.

Join our volunteer community: Volunteers are an important part of our community. They support us in various ways from providing insights, helping us thank our donor community and amplifying key messages.

Sign up to be a Signal for Help Responder: Join a community of over 27,000 people who have signed up to help end gender-based violence. When you sign up, you will be able to download The Signal for Help Responder’s Action Guide that offers practical tips and information to respond to someone who may be experiencing abuse and violence in a supportive way.

The Foundation will direct the YPI grant to the area of greatest need, to best support women, girls and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence and leadership.

Our organization has a central office in Toronto, and a number of team members who work remotely in locations throughout Canada. Our team is made up of approximately 40 staff split into four teams:

Community Initiatives: This team works with our grantees and manages the granting of funds.
Public Engagement: This team manages our communications, website, and social media.
Philanthropy: This team communicates with our donors and manages fundraising.
Finance and Operations: This team manages the Foundation’s finances and administration.

Learn more about our CEO and Board of Directors