NAWL Celebrates 50 Years of Advancing Women’s Substantive Equality

July 23, 2024
Alliance News

The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is kicking off its 50th anniversary in 2024 by celebrating five decades of landmark law reform, leadership and advocacy to break down barriers to justice and equality for women in Canada.

“NAWL is tremendously proud of its role in achieving key milestones for women’s substantive equality throughout Canada, as well as advancing intersectional feminist law reform in this country,” said Tiffany Butler, Executive Director of NAWL.

“We’re celebrating 50 years of progress on behalf of all women in Canada, from our impact on ensuring the inclusion of Sections 15 and 28 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to our role in shaping the recent legislation on gun control which will save women’s lives,” she said.

Changing the conversation around firearms legislation, advancing the rights of survivors of sexual assault under Canada’s publications ban regime, as well as spotlighting issues around gender-based violence and women’s safety are some of the ways NAWL’s current work continues to build a stronger, more inclusive and equitable justice system.

“Thanks to NAWL’s recommended amendments, Bill C-21 contains solid measures to improve the protection of victims of domestic violence from gun violence,” said Heidi Rathjen, Coordinator of the leading gun control advocacy group, PolySeSouvient. “Those measures will save many lives.”

On February 29th, NAWL’s 50th Anniversary Reception and Awards on Parliament Hill will see Members of Parliament and Senators, as well as partners from the feminist and social justice sectors, gather to formally recognize NAWL’s milestone anniversary. The event aims to celebrate the invaluable contributions to NAWL’s work by countless academics, lawyers, law students and activists who have been instrumental in its many achievements since its inception in 1974.

Moving forward, NAWL remains committed to vigorously defending the rights of all women, particularly those of Indigenous women, Black and racialized women, women with disabilities, members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, and women who are newcomers to Canada. 

On March 1st, NAWL will increase feminist law reform capacity in Canada by delivering a practical, full-day workshop open to law students, activists and allied organizations.

Concurrently, the University of Ottawa’s Archives & Special Collections department will unveil a collaborative exhibit illustrating the story of NAWL over five decades of gender equality advocacy. The 50th Anniversary exhibit will be displayed on the uOttawa campus for several months, while a digital version will be showcased on NAWL’s website.

“As we reflect on how far we’ve come in the last 50 years, we also recognize that there is still work to be done for women in Canada, especially in our priority areas of violence against women, reproductive rights, and women’s rights in the climate crisis,” said Butler.

“I am confident that NAWL has what it takes to continue making an impact through feminist law reform in the next 50 years — for the benefit of all women in this country,” she said.