Vervegirl Speaks to Beverley Wybrow, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation

VG: What is the Canadian Women’s Foundation?

BW:The Canadian Women’s Foundation is Canada’s public foundation for women and girls. We empower women and girls in Canada to move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence. Since 1991, we’ve raised money and invested in over 1,100 community programs across Canada, and are now one of the ten largest women’s foundations in the world. We take a positive approach to address root causes of the most critical issues facing women and girls. We study and share the best ways to create long-term change and bring community organizations together for training and to learn from each other. We carefully select and fund the programs with the strongest outcomes and regularly evaluate their work. We have a special focus on building a community of women helping other women. We invest in the power of women and the dreams of girls. For more information please visit www.canadianwomen.org

VG: How did you personally get involved in the Canadian Women’s Foundation?

BW: I have been the President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation since it began in 1991. Prior to starting in that role, I was a volunteer helping with the planning of the Foundation’s launch.

VG: What are some of the goals the Canadian Women’s Foundation would like to achieve in regards to helping young girls?
BW: At the Canadian Women’s Foundation we want every girl to believe in herself and realize that she matters. When you give a girl the chance for a better life, she moves into confidence and learns to overcome challenges like violence, poverty, and gender stereotypes.

VG:How does your Foundation help teen girls with these issues?
BW:We fund dynamic programs for girls (age 9-13) that engage their body, mind, and spirit. They explore science and technology, get physically active, become media-literate, learn to think critically, and take on leadership in a supportive all-girl environment. Canadian Women’s Foundation has invested in teen school-based and community healthy relationship programs for more than 15 years, and has recently received funding from Status of Women Canada to develop a national learning strategy on teen healthy relationships.  In the teen healthy relationship programs, skills are taught through a combination of classroom work and discussion that draw on healthy relationship foundations, boundary setting, gender stereotypes, preventing dating violence and assertive communication.  Many of the programs incorporate important leadership opportunities for teens to co-facilitate the program.

VG:How can teens get involved in some of the programs that the Canadian Women’s Foundation offers?

BW:We encourage all teens to look into local programs that may be already available in their community and in their schools.  For a full list of programs we support please visit: http://canadianwomen.org/your-money-at-work

VG:Are you able to share a success story of how Canadian Women’s Foundation has helped a teen girl?
Many teens have talked about how they have been helped by Canadian Women’s Foundation funded teen healthy relationship programs:

“The program helped me learn how to recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to overcome possible problems and issues that could lead to an unhealthy relationship. I now feel more comfortable with my surroundings and more confident that I will make responsible and healthy decisions throughout the future.” states grade 11 student, Hannah Gillis, who took part in the school-based Healthy Relationships for Youth program in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, which is funded by Canadian Women’s Foundation

VG: Would you have any advice about how girls can work together in their schools to start their own programs to support young women?
BW:I would suggest that they do some research on-line about other programs for girls – they can start by looking at the ones we fund. Then they can look in their own communities to see if there is a YWCA, Girls Inc or Boys and Girls Club to explore possibilities of after-school community programs for girls. They should talk with their Guidance Counselor, Health teacher or Principal to ask about the possibility of starting a program in their school.

VG: Is there any way teens can get involved in your Foundation as a volunteer?
BW:One of the ways teens can get involved to help the Canadian Women’s Foundation is to help spread the word about our work and our events with their peers and through social media. Shelter from the Storm is a national campaign to raise money for local women’s shelters and violence prevention programs for teens.  Anyone over 12 years of age can register to participate in the 2nd Annual Empower Hour, a one hour group based workout lead by GoodLife Fitness that challenges you in support of women and children facing the toughest challenge of their life.  For more information visit  www.shelterfromthestorm.ca

VG: Do you have a final message you would like to share with Vervegirl’s about the Canadian Women’s Foundation?

BW:This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. From a dream that started with two women, we are now one of the 10 largest women’s foundations in the world.  We are so grateful for the support of our donors, partners and volunteers; for the women’s and girls’ organizations doing amazing work all over Canada; and for the strength and incredible resilience of women and girls who are changing their lives with our help. We encourage your readers that are passionate about social change for women and girls in Canada to join us at www.canadianwomen.org