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Canadian Women's Foundation

How did a conversation between two friends start a chain of events that would touch the lives of thousands of women and girls in Canada?

In 1986, there was no umbrella organization in Canada designed for people who were interested in advancing women’s equality.

But in March of that year, two grade school chums – Nancy Ruth Jackman and Susan Woods – would have a conversation that not only changed that fact, but also start a chain of events that, decades later, has improved the lives of thousands of women and girls across Canada.

Several years earlier, Nancy Ruth and Rosemary Brown, a feminist politician from British Columbia, had discussed the lack of a mechanism for women to target their charitable giving towards helping other women and changing the systems that created inequality. They agreed that such an instrument had to be created. They knew social change could be advanced by giving grants to grassroots community organizations that were in the position to grab opportunities and move upward and onward.

Nancy Ruth knew from a survey conducted by LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) that only 2% of charitable donations from corporations and foundations were going to services for women and girls. This fact prompted her to become a ‘feminist’ philanthropist.

So on that sunny March day, as Nancy Ruth and Susan dragged some dusty lawn chairs from the garage and sat in the driveway eating lunch and chatting about the possibilities, it was no surprise their conversation soon focused on women, power, equality and money.