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I came to NAWL rather fortuitously. I had just finished a ten month stint on Parliament Hill as a full time parliamentary intern and was eager to get involved in the community. I also needed some summer work. After meeting NAWL’s Executive Director Bonnie Diamond at a local tenant support program in Ottawa, I decided to drop off a resume to NAWL. Shortly after, NAWL invited me to work there as a summer student.
I had two main tasks during the summer. The first was to identify possible sources of funding for further research on the State’s retreat from providing health care, child care, income support and other public services. I conducted this search primarily via the internet. While I found quite a few organizations who had a record of financially supporting our approach, many of them are American and cannot fund Canadian research. There are a few international organizations, however, whose mandates include the exploration of the effects of globalization on the role of the State around the world. Given NAWL’s strong record and national influence, these organizations are definitely worth pursuing as possible funders.
The remainder of my time was devoted to preparations for the World March of women. Andrée Côté, NAWL’s Director of Legislation and Law Reform and our representative on the Canadian Women’s March Committee agreed to edit the March Committee’s main lobby document, It’s Time for Change: Demands to the Federal Government to End Poverty and Violence Against Women. I assisted Andrée in this task by pulling together many of the comments and suggestions which had been submitted by women’s organizations across the country in response to the first draft of the document (which had been released in March). Together, we worked to incorporate as many of the suggestions as possible, so that the document truly reflected the diversity of women’s lives in Canada. Once this task was done, we worked closely with the drafting committee to produce a final draft in time for the reconvening of Parliament in early September.
Spending my summer at NAWL was an amazing opportunity. A year on Parliament Hill had dulled some of my passion for public policy (the games and antics I had seen used in the House of Commons around matters of public interest were most often discouraging) and I was in great need of inspiration. My feminist sensibilities were reinvigorated at NAWL, an organization solidly rooted in its analysis of women’s lives and firmly committed to equality for all women.
I can’t imagine having had such a rigorous experience anywhere else, and I leave NAWL with a better sense of myself and a greater understanding of what work needs to be done on behalf of women in Canada – and around the world.
Nancy Peckford was a summer student assisting NAWL in activities related to the Canadian Women’s March.