Past President of UWC Winnipeg Sandra Millen and former National President of CFUW Doris Mae Oulton (2014 – 2016) with a poster for for the CFUW Centennial. The picture is of Margaret McWilliams and the setting is the living room of the Ralph Connor House


Canadian delegates to the 1921 Paris Conference of the International Federation of University Women.  Margaret McWilliams is seated at centre.


CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace. CFUW is the largest affiliate of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), the leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels.

Our vision is of a strong national organization working to ensure that all girls and women have equal opportunities and equal access to quality education within a peaceful and secure environment where their human rights are respected.  Our vision includes a world where poverty is reduced, discrimination eliminated, where there are equal opportunities for leadership, employment, income, education, careers and the ability to maximize potential.
Mission Statement

CFUW will continue to enhance its role as a national, bilingual, independent organization striving to promote equality, social justice, fellowship and life-long learning for women and girls.

CFUW’s Purpose

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW/FCFDU) is a leading national equality-seeking organization that works to advance the human rights of women and girls.

  1. Promote high standards of public education in Canada, advanced study and research by women, and sound concept of lifelong learning.
  2. Advocate for the advancement of the status of women, human rights and the common good locally, nationally and internationally.
  3. Promote cooperation, networking, support and understanding among women.
  4. Encourage and enable women to apply their knowledge and skills in leadership and decision‐making in all aspects of the political, social, cultural, educational and scientific fields.

CFUW/FCFDU is committed to:

  • Improving the status of women and girls
  • Promoting quality public education
  • Advancing the status of women, human rights, justice and peace

National Activities

  • Informs the Government of Canada about CFUW/FCFDU policies on education, the status of women, human rights, justice, social and environmental issues
  • Provides members with opportunities to network at local, regional, provincial, national and international meetings
  • Supports the CFUW/FCFDU Charitable Trust which
  • Receives individual and Club donations
  • Administers funds for:
    • Graduate Awards and Fellowships
    • The Creative Music Award through the Banff School of the Performing Arts in Alberta

Local Clubs of CFUW/FCFDU:

  • Provide opportunities for fellowship and support
  • Hold meetings on educational, cultural and social issues with an emphasis on the status of women and girls
  • Have special interest and study groups on a wide range of topics
  • Research and present resolutions for consideration at the CFUW/FCFDU Annual General Meeting
  • Ensure that local MPs, MNAs; MLAs; MPPs are aware of CFUW/FCFDU policies
  • Advocate for CFUW policies at the local level


Graduate Women International is an international network linking women graduates from all cultures, all fields of study, all professions and all generations.

GWI has national affiliates in 62 countries, including CFUW, and individual members in more than 40 others.

It was founded in 1919 after World War I by women graduates who believed in the importance of working together for peace, international understanding and friendship.


Today their mission is to:

  • promote lifelong education for women and girls; promote international cooperation, friendship, peace and respect for human rights for all, irrespective of their gender, age, race, nationality, religion, political opinion, gender and sexual orientation or other status; advocate for the advancement of the status of women and girls; and
  • encourage and enable women and girls to apply their knowledge and skills in leadership and decision-making in all forms of public and private life.

They provide a global voice for women graduates, working for the adoption and implementation of international agreements that will protect and benefit all women and girls.

Members volunteer their expertise in a wide-range of community projects, such as:

  • literacy and vocational training programmes;
  • free medical and legal clinics;
  • programmes to prevent domestic violence; and
  • campaigns to increase women’s awareness of their rights and to promote women’s participation in the political process.

GWI also offers numerous conferences, seminars and workshops that provide opportunities to discuss global issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Visit GWI's website for more information.



IFUW Becomes GWI
by  Muriel Smith


JUNE, 2016
Article No. 8  -  Final Thoughts on GWI   

This will be my last commentary on GWI and the question of whether CFUW retain or sever its relationship. Our Winnipeg Club has had its AGM discussion on the matter and voted overwhelmingly to sever the tie. Our president received that advice from Winnipeg members by secret ballot as to how she should vote at the CFUW AGM in St. Catharines in late June. What happens in St. Catharines will then determine how our CFUW delegation will vote on future affiliation, proposed constitutional changes and budget for the next Triennium at the GWI AGM in Cape Town, South Africa in late August.

My feeling at this point is that the unwillingness to take on an additional financial burden will carry the day, both in Canada and South Africa. At both events, there will be many eloquent pleas made for the benefits of being part of an international organization, one that CFUW helped found in order to promote, with worldwide political and economic decision-makers, the importance of educating girls and women. We too often forget the role education has played in enriching our own lives, and that far too many of the world’s girls and women have not yet had that door to equality and opportunity opened for them.

While my personal preference is that CFUW remain affiliated with GWI, I have spent some time reflecting on why women’s groups, here and elsewhere, find that regardless of the flood of good will and hard work, we have not been able collectively to marshal the resources, human and capital, to support and sustain our local, national and international women’s organizations.

I have been considering both the history and the current realities of women’s lives. While there are a few exceptions, women as a group have had  long and arduous struggles both to support themselves and their families economically and to project their voices into public decision-making arenas to benefit all women. Add to that, while struggling for their own and their sisters’ equality, they have been carrying by far the greater burdens of care giving and community building. Women university graduates on average have fared much better but too many of us still believe we cannot readily absorb significant fee increases.        

Even in Canada where many women have been in the workforce and have built up substantial pensions, that is not true for all, even in Clubs where fees are substantially lower than our Winnipeg Club which has a costly historic house to maintain. These three factors – women only recently and not in all countries entering the political and economic mainstream; our paid employment, if any, predominantly in lower paid service sectors; and our greater share of responsibility for care giving and community building – combine to reduce the ability of many of us to absorb cost increases.   

Unless those of us who argue for keeping our international connection with GWI are able to persuade members of the need for and value of belonging to this organization we helped found and have helped to guide, one with a purposeful commitment to promote education for girls and women worldwide as the best means to achieve equality and peace, I fear the “bottom-line”, however important it is, will always become the decisive factor. 



(Left to Right)