President’s February Message

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For the past 101 years, CFUW National, and all its Canadian clubs, have been members of the international organization, IFUW now called GWI or Graduate Women International. Membership in GWI has always been required in the National Constitution in Article 4.

As many of you probably know, membership in GWI has been a bone of contention for the last five years partly because of increasing fees. The motion to remove Article 4 has been voted on at each National AGM but has failed to reach the required two-thirds majority each time. To date, no solution has been proposed that satisfies both sides of the issue, and the divide has become wider and deeper to the point that several clubs are withholding their dues and threatening to leave the national organization.

As a result, the National Board voted on December 1 to allow clubs to decide if they wanted to be a member of GWI or not, even though this contravened the constitution and therefore was illegal! The National President sent a message to all clubs on December 9 announcing the vote which of course resulted in a flurry of angry emails. Only local clubs can vote to change the National Constitution! President Wilkinson’s message and the dates for two scheduled Dialogues to discuss this issue are in the January 7 and January 13 Club Action Newsletters. I strongly encourage you to register for one or both Dialogues, scheduled for January 28th at 7:30 PM and January 30th at 12:00 Noon. You can read and register here: From National Board – GWI/Dialogues.

I have been attending monthly meetings of three different President’s Groups for the past year and have been hearing about this growing crisis. One group has been trying to come up with a solution to satisfy both sides. Last Wednesday, several members presented a novel proposal for the others to discuss. We all thought it might work but wanted a way to be sure this option would be put on the Dialogue agenda for discussion. It needed a non-controversial club to send a letter requesting the addition of the option to the agenda, and St. Catharines best fit the bill. So after much discussion and editing, your Executive unanimously approved the letter, and it was sent on Sunday, January 10, to the National President and Board. It is also being sent to all 99 other clubs across Canada. You can read the letter by clicking: Letter to CFUW National re: GWI proposed solution.

I believe in the value and importance of GWI and the work they do across the world. However, your Executive did not commit you to support the option mentioned in the letter or any position at all. We will be asking for your opinion in the next few months. We will need to vote, perhaps as early as March to decide whether we, as a club, support GWI membership or not.

As with all votes, we need to understand the facts in order to make a decision. If you want to start increasing your understanding of GWI, please see my updated history of events here: My Case for GWI. Please also visit the GWI website: GWI website and check out the 2020 Year in Review: GWI Year-at-a-Glance. Former CFUW President Tammy Irwin also wrote about a GWI success story that illustrates cooperation in action. You can read that here: GWI Success Story by T. Irwin.

As for our current daily situation, I find a good thing about February is that the days become noticeably longer. This will be especially important during the next month of lockdown. I am also realizing that attending virtual General Meetings reinforces the feeling that although I am physically isolated, I am not emotionally isolated. Thank goodness for Zoom, my family and you! Please stay home and stay safe.