Local delegate helps expand women’s rights abroad

April 10, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Schomberg’s Lynn Bird (far right) joined (l to r) Grace Hollett, CFUW national president, Kathryn Wilkinson, CFUW VP Education, Mora Ballantyne, Child Care Now, at a gender equality conference at the UN in New York recently.

By Mark Pavilons

Promoting access to education for women and girls received some international attention recently, at the largest United Nations gathering on gender equality ever held.
Schomberg’s Lynn Bird was a delegate, represented the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women held March 11-22 in New York City.
An estimated 9,000 delegates from around the globe shared concerns, recommendations, concepts and plans to promote opportunities for women.
For Bird and the CFUW, it meant they had the opportunity to have their message heard by some of the delegates. Their particular delegation included some of the top national leadership of CFUW and “we were well prepared.”
Ahead of the conference, they submitted a written statement called “Promoting Gender Equality through Quality Public Education Systems and Services.” The statement, Bird said, focuses on tackling the systemic barriers in accessing education for women and girls and ensuring safe and non-discriminatory learning environment.
“We had the support from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, Graduate Women International, International Alliance of Women, the National Council of Women of Canada and YWCA Canada! The hope was that we would be selected to present this statement to the UN.”
CFUW partnered with Graduate Women International to present a parallel event entitled “The Promise of Global Citizenship Education and the Power of Digital Literacy.” The power of connectivity to the internet for educational advancement is well documented and one speaker streamed from Canada, making this an excellent example of using technology.
The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The discussion at this year’s session focussed on social protection systems; women’s empowerment, and the vital participation of NGOs.
As an NGO with “consultative status” with the United Nations, the CFUW delegation actively participated in the discussions. Bird was one of 20 CFUW delegates from across Canada chosen to attend the event.
This was the first time Bird attended the UN. She was filled with wonder prior to the conference, eager to learn more about advocacy issues. She also had an expection to learn some of the best practices that would benefit women and girls in Tanzania.
“The benefits for me were the opportunity to meet many women in leadership roles throughout the world and hearing about what they are doing to addresses issues of concern to women. Issues of inheritance rights of widows in India; the elimination of child marriages in Yemen and female genital mutilation in Kenya. Closer to home was the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. I learned a great deal from a presentation on the role of the family in giving girls the confidence to pursue a career in STEM. Girls are under represented in STEM careers compared to other developed countries.
“We were happy to have a face to face meeting with our own Minister of the Status of Women and International Development, Maryam Monsef, and presented a statement on the need for Canada to have a national child care program, one that is accessible and affordable. Canadian child care advocates have been requesting this for many years.
“One take-away from this event was the amount of interest by my fellow CFUW delegates in ABCD’s program that supports a women’s cooperative in Tanzania that is making personal care kits available for young women and girls to help with their menstrual health needs. Girls miss less school, stay healthier when they have easy access to water, toilets with doors and personal care kits.
Bird co-founded a Canadian NGO, ABCD: Art Building Children’s Dreams, that works in Tanzania to support the educational needs of children and community development in the Kilimanjaro Region.
Bird hopes to release a report for CFUW this May. She will also be presenting some best practices on gender equality that could “apply to our work in Tanzania to our board of directors here in Canada and also to the Community Based Organization, ABCD Tanzania, that we work closely with in Tanzania.”
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. Bird is a member of the Aurora/Newmarket branch. For more, visit or contact them at
Bird retired as a clinical laboratory manager at Southlake Regional Health Center in 2002. After retirement she returned to Southlake as a volunteer looking after the corporate art collection. For over 24 years, Lynn was a member of the Rotary Club of Newmarket and was fortunate to serve Rotary International at a club, district and international level. She was a trained monitor and evaluator of humanitarian projects with Canadian Rotary Collaboration for International Development.



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