Women’s Worlds: Ottawa Welcomes International Feminist Conference


Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is playing host to a major international feminist conference this week. Women’s Worlds 2011, which has about 1,600 attendees from around the world, is the 11th Women’s World congress and marks 30 years since the first congress at Haifa University in 1981. The conference co-hosts, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, have been organizing and planning this event for the past four years.

The theme of the conference, which runs from July 3 to July 7,  is inclusions, exclusions and seclusions in a globalized world. According to the conference description, globalization has had a complex impact on women:

Globalization has contributed to the destabilization and marginalization of women and communities. Yet certain consequences have yielded positive results for women. Globalization has meant enhanced communications and organization — trans-national connectivity that must be depend as women’s organizations and networks struggle to sustain themselves and maintain resilience in the face of forces that oppose women’s equality.

The conference emphasizes the participation of under-represented and under-resourced groups, such as young women, women with disabilities and indigenous women. It also encourages inter-generational dialogue and other critical exchanges, such as North-South, East-West, academic and grassroots, resourced and marginalized.

The conference kick-off on July 3rd was not without some controversy. The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Status of Women Minister, welcomed women to the conference. She was booed by some members of the audience when she spoke about her government’s commitment “to bettering the lives of women and girls in communities across Canada and around the world.”  The Conservative government is known for significant cuts to funding to women’s organizations, including most recently its decision to deny funding to the International Planned Parenthood Foundation. While the Conservative government has made some high profile funding announcements recently that relate to combating violence against Aboriginal communities, critics feel that it is only a drop in the bucket compared to what is truly needed.

Francoise Boivin, the New Democratic Party critic on the status of women, told the Globe and Mail that despite Ms. Ambrose’s enthusiasm, “there is so much missing” from the government’s approach to women’s issues. Ms. Boivin noted that the Conservative government can’t simply ignore things like poverty, housing, and pay equity. She also noted that while things are bad for women in general, they are much worse for native women. She would like to see Ms. Ambrose use her energy to push the Conservative cabinet to see these problems and “push really, really hard” to address them.

Outside of the political sphere, the exchange of ideas at Women’s World promises to be productive and inspiring to the 1,600 delegates who are soaking up new ideas and networking with women from around the world. Care2 will be reporting on several conference themes over the course of the conference.

Related Stories:

Canadian Government Quietly Guts Planned Parenthood Funding

Young Feminists Speak Out

Has Feminism Been Bad for American Education?

Photo credit: WW2011 on flickr

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C.4 years ago

One very good thing about this conference was that it drew the attention of everyone present to the atrocious fact that since 2000 at least 150 Aboriginal women have gone missing in Canada. There were already many pre-2000 - how many is not even known.

Apart from by Aboriginal women themselves and their allies, almost nothing has been done about this . While the lives of poor women are cheap, Native women are the most expendable.

On Tuesday about 800 conference-goers marched on Parliament Hill to again insist that our missing and murdered sisters do matter. For a report see http://rabble.ca/news/2011/07/women%E2%80%99s-worlds-2011-800-march-parliament-murdered-and-missing-aboriginal-women

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

The feminist movement in the past was about equality and that is what it should be about now. Therefore, men have nothing to fear from this movement.

Valarie S.
Valarie Snell4 years ago

Well said, Aspen J

Aspen J.
Aspen J.4 years ago

@ Helen K. re: our sadly disgruntled man Will W.:

Comment 1: "Fear" - I figured as much, but I am always curious what these guys are so afraid of. For the majority of men of lower to middle status, they actually stand to benefit from most feminist-driven policies (assuming they are in an equitable relationship with a woman, or value women to a healthy degree). So I like to ask the question: what is so fear inspiring/offensive to you about equity between gendered human beings? I wonder when some of these fellas will understand that this us vs. them bollocks distracts us from the grand struggle wherein we are all comrades: classist oppression.

Comment 2: lol - so true!

Helen K.
Helen K.4 years ago

AND ANOTHER THING...............

If you swap all of the female terminology in Will W's comment with male terminology,
what do you get? ...........Truth

Helen K.
Helen K.4 years ago

@Aspen J re: Will W.


Aspen J.
Aspen J.4 years ago

Will W: I am perplexed as to what in particular about this article would lead you to to that conclusion? As it does not seem apparent that any males were harmed in the making of this event, or article, can you please clarify the reason for your vitriolic statement?

Feminism, in the simplest sense, is about seeking equity between men and women. If you are not playing the role of an oppressor within our decreasingly patriarchal society - and there are many fine men who conscientiously do not - I cannot envision why this movement would present such an affront to you. My husband would never spew such anti-woman crap; I am curious what would motivate you?

Will W.
Will Will4 years ago

The more I learn about feminism the less I like it. It is a manipulative dishonest self interested movement, which tried to dupe society, while doing everything it can to hurt males to the maximum extent possible. In the process it also does a lot of damage to females. In sum, it is a mean nasty female supremacist movement.

Bruce S.
Bruce S.4 years ago

Maybe they should have held it in Mexico.