Why Canadian Feed The Children is mobilizing for gender equality

Jacquelyn Wright, President and CEO of Canadian Feed The Children, believes gender equality can have the biggest impact when it comes to eradicating child poverty, unlocking children’s potential, and changing the world. That’s why CFTC is taking part in the Women Deliver 2019 Mobilization Canada campaign — joining their voice with those of other Canadian organizations to bring about positive change.



By Hailey Eisen




For Canadian Feed The Children’s (CFTC) President and CEO Jacquelyn Wright, joining the Women Deliver 2019 Mobilization was a no-brainer. “We know that when we invest in girls and women, there is a ripple effect that reaches families, communities, and nations,” she says. “We’re eager to be part of a unified voice advocating for greater gender equality, and the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls — we’re a small organization and our voice alone is not enough.”

Strength in numbers is one of the main reasons for the Women Deliver 2019 Mobilization Canada campaign, which was built around the global conference to be held in Vancouver this June. The idea is to rally Canadian players, including those not traditionally focused on women and girls, and turn their focus toward gender equality.  

One of the first to sign on was CFTC, a registered charity focused on unlocking children’s potential through community-led action in Canada and around the world. “While our organization is child-focused, we know that women are the key drivers of economic growth,” says Jacquelyn. “The key to helping children thrive and move out of poverty is women.”

For CFTC, gender equality is a cross-cutting theme and integral to the success of their programming in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, and Bolivia. “In these countries, we’re focused on building women’s inclusion and full participation in programs related to agriculture, community building, and income generation,” Jacquelyn explains. “Throughout our work we focus on creating opportunities for long-term, sustainable food security and access to education for children.”


“The key to helping children thrive and move out of poverty is women.”


In northern Ghana, for example, CFTC spent four years on resilient and sustainable livelihood transformation. They worked with a group of women who were able to develop small businesses and, in some cases, double and triple their incomes as a result. “We’re now going back to that community with a follow-on initiative which we’re calling the ‘venture hub’,” she says. “Essentially, we’ll be helping those women take their businesses to the next level, which will lead to sustainable economic growth and independence for these women, their families and their communities.”

In Ethiopia CFTC has been working with farmers, 60% of whom are women, with a focus on agricultural productivity. “We also built in local advocacy initiatives to this program, including gender equality training for farm families. The result impacted the livelihoods of more than 3,000 women and their families — leading to increased wealth and decision-making powers on the part of women.”

In Canada, where CFTC is working closely with Indigenous communities, they’re partnering with women, children, youth, and Elders to support greater access to healthy food. “We work with community members and Elders to support land-based education and practices related to food that rebuild connections to culture and stimulate inter-generational learning. Elders are passing on vital knowledge about hunting, fishing, and the traditional relationships between people and the land, water and resources that sustain life, with the goal to create greater food security and food sovereignty.”

For Jacquelyn, who has been involved in humanitarian and development work for more than 30 years — she was with the Canadian Red Cross and CARE Canada prior to joining CFTC — the disparity in access to programs for men and women has always been on her radar. “Often, you go to a community to talk with them because you want to have a community-led process and you’re met by men,” she says. “You have to make a really specific initiative to talk to women; it doesn’t happen naturally in many cases.”

Most interestingly, according to Jacquelyn, is that only when you do talk with the women are you able to find out about all sorts of needs of the community that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.  


“I’ve honed in on gender equality as the thing that will have the biggest impact when it comes to changing the world.”


She says that empowering women, educating them, and giving them access to decision-making and leadership opportunities has proven to be the key to transforming communities, but only if considered within the scope of the entire community. “If you only focus on girls and women and leave the boys and men behind, that can lead to resentment,” she says. While some power holders will have to let go of power, success comes when a balance can be struck.

“Basically, I’ve honed in on gender equality as the thing that will have the biggest impact when it comes to changing the world,” Jacquelyn says. “I’ve always wanted to use my influence to change hearts and minds — and I see the Mobilization campaign as another way to do that.”  

Jacquelyn is thankful for the Mobilization as a means of taking such important conversations to the next level. “It’s one thing to participate in something like this and another to carry it forward — that’s the beautiful thing about this movement, it puts a stake in the ground.” For CFTC and many other organizations that have joined the Mobilization, the Women Deliver 2019 conference provides an opportunity for decision makers to commit to forward movement. To connect, to learn, to collaborate — and bring about positive change, together


To learn more about how you can join the Mobilization and take action for gender equality, visit their website at www.WeDeliver2019.ca and join the conversation on Twitter with #WeDeliver2019.

Meet Kyla Fox, an Entrepreneur Bringing Healing to Women in Toronto

Kyla Fox is the founder of The Kyla Fox Centre, a premier eating-disorder recovery centre in Toronto. She has been a clinical therapist in the field for fifteen years and is a public speaker, writer, educator and advocate for eating disorder awareness and prevention. Her personal experiences and struggles inspired her to make a profound impact on other women and girls, and you’ll discover that she intends to keep that impact alive through her proudest accomplishments her two daughters, Ryan Belle and Augusta Grey.




My first job ever was… Working in retail at a trendy clothing store called Lunatic Fringe when I was 14 years old. Loved it.


I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I don’t like people telling me what to do.  I wanted to make my own rules.  


Running a private business focused on mental health is… In my blood — it’s what I’ve struggled with. Opening a centre for eating disorder recovery was, therefore, a no-brainer. It’s what I know.


My proudest accomplishment is… My daughters Ryan Belle (2 years) and Augusta Grey (4 months).


My boldest move to date was… Having my girls.


I surprise people when I tell them… I’m highly anxious and anti-social. People don’t believe me.  It’s true.


My best advice to people starting out in business is… Setting a deadline and sticking to it. I said I wanted to open the Centre on my 30th birthday, that I had to do it before turning 31. I did.


My best advice from a mentor was… “Keep going”. And “make sure you pay yourself”.


My biggest setback was… Finding the right team when I opened The Centre. Finding the right fit for the work we are doing and staying true to my vision.


I overcame it by… Constantly evaluating the dynamics of my team and ensuring our goals/philosophy for healing are aligned.


Work/life balance is… Impossible. How do all you women do this?! Kudos to Sheryl Sandberg. She’s a legend.


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’ve been trying to read Wally Lamb’s book, ‘We Are Water’, for two years. I’m on page three. It’s collecting dust on my night table. But more seriously, my dream is to travel the world with my daughters. To interview women and their daughters cross-culturally about body image and raising girls.


I stay inspired by… Doing my yoga practice.


The future excites me because… I get to influence the next generation of women through my daughters. And I get to continue to speak louder about changing the language of eating disorders.


My next step is… Actively marketing my business. The Centre has successfully run on word of mouth for five years and I haven’t needed to do this to date. I’m excited for new eyes on the Centre!!



Do you know a successful female entrepreneur who deserves recognition? Nominate her for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards!



Meet Sarah Kerr, Executive Director of SchoolBOX

Sarah Kerr got involved in the grassroots charity SchoolBOX at the young age of 19, when she helped to raise funds to build the organization’s very first classroom in Nicaragua. She was humbled by the extreme poverty she witnessed there, and propelled by a strong desire to change the world by giving children access to a basic education. At the age of 25 she became SchoolBOX’s Executive Director, leading a team of 15 local Nicaraguan employees and 3 Canadian employees to fulfill its mission of ‘making education possible’ for all girls and boys. Now a working mother, reporting to a Board of Directors comprised of 85% women, Sarah firmly believes in championing women and girls to reach their full potential, starting with a basic education.




My first job ever was… Was working at an independent bookshop and café.  My boss was an incredible model for community building and generosity. I can thank her for introducing me to SchoolBOX, my addiction to books, and snobbery for fair trade coffee to this day.


I decided to pursue this passion because… As the daughter of an amazing teacher, I always thought I would pursue the same path. When I started raising money for school supplies and literacy for schools in South America as a teenager, I realized I could impact kids by empowering their teachers.


My proudest accomplishment is… Championing women like Jazmin Lopez who broke the cycle of extreme poverty in one generation through education, was a founding member of SchoolBOX, has a decade of entrepreneurial experience in Nicaragua and a degree in international relations. Today she empowers 18,000+ kids in her country!


My boldest move to date was… I took a year off of university to work multiple jobs and raise funds for the first SchoolBOX library & school. I learned Spanish in Costa Rica and lived with local teachers in Nicaragua. Little did I know I would find a lifelong mission, my Christian faith, and meet my husband in the process.


I surprise people when I tell them… That I can do a pretty good front flip…off of cliffs, bridges, or accidentally on snowboard jumps!


My best advice to people starting out in the non-profit world is… This world needs your passion and energy! Focus your mindset on the mission, not trying to ‘get a job’. I would also suggest trying to learn as much about business as possible because non-profit work is ultimately running a lean and agile organization with high impact.


My best advice from a mentor was… Don’t be a perfectionist. Be brave.


“This world needs your passion and energy! Focus your mindset on the mission, not trying to ‘get a job’”


My biggest setback was… Postpartum anxiety. Having birth trauma, and later a miscarriage were some serious personal challenges as a working mom.


I overcame it by… Having great mentors. My executive coaches, who are amazing women filled with wisdom and encouragement, have been a lifesaver for me. Also having a support system to lean on including my family and friends, church community, neighbours, my naturopath and family doctor have been key.


Work/life balance is… Elusive! My work involves a lot of travel, which is very challenging with a small child with asthma, who got pneumonia twice this winter. Still working on this one.


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I love to travel and have explored cultures on five continents through food, dance, language and adventure. There are so many amazing places and people on this planet, it could take many lifetimes to experience all the diversity and beauty.


I stay inspired by… Visiting teachers in Nicaragua who are ‘making education possible’ for kids in unimaginable conditions. Last month, I met Gema Picado who just graduated from teachers college, built a dirt floor rancho in her home community that had no school, and is now giving classes to 54 kids each day. Her determination is inspiring!


The future excites me because… Kids are so open to using their imaginations to make our world better. Seeing young Nicaraguans leading SchoolBOX and the impact that Indigenous youth volunteers are now making in their communities in Canada, after helping to build schools in Nicaragua, is pretty incredible.


My next step is… Piloting our SchoolBOX model here at home to empower Indigenous youth to ‘make education possible’ for children in their home communities.


Meet Stephanie Boyd, a Canadian filmmaker advocating for those without a voice.



Meet Sandra Longo, a Woman Bringing Newfound Mobility to Those Who are Wheelchair-Bound

Sandra Longo was young when she became committed and passionate about disabled individuals who live their lives wheelchair-bound — when she was only 9 years old, her mother became a complete Paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury. With encouragement from family, friends and neighbours, Sandra started Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities in 2016, a charity which donates portable wheelchair ramps to individuals in need. Learn more about what inspired her current endeavour, and how she stays motivated for the future.



My first job ever was… At a large Garden Center/Craft and Hobby Store.  This job began to open my young and narrow views of the world. I enjoyed the idea that people were all different, and each individual who came into the store, came because they had different crafts and or hobbies that they were working on.


I started my venture because… I wanted to help people who were disabled and who used wheelchairs. When I was a young child my mother became a paraplegic and suddenly had to live life from a wheelchair. I learned first-hand what the consequences were when an individual was not free to live how they wanted to, especially when they were not included due to limited accessibility options.  It creates an emotional scar that never goes away. I wanted to help stop the emotional pain for these individuals.   


My proudest accomplishment is… My very first Race, a 10 kilometer race. That was easily one of the best moments of my life, because I never thought of myself as a trail blazer and this race was my very first personal achievement. When I crossed the finish line at that race, I cried like I had never cried before. You know the moment — that moment when you just realized that you exceeded your own expectations! That race changed who I told myself I was.


My boldest move to date was… Deciding that I was going to start a charity, when I didn’t have the slightest clue of how I was going to it but doing it anyway because it’s what I believe I was born to do.  


I surprise people when I tell them… The experience my family has had with a slew of family tragedies, including when my mother became paralyzed in 1984, while giving birth to my youngest sister. In the decades that followed, it was these experiences that created my empathy for others, and inspired me to give back in some way. These events enabled me to gain a better understanding and to identify with with people who live with disabilities.  


My best advice to people starting out in business is… Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.  


My best advice from a mentor was… Success leaves clues. Go figure out what someone who was successful did, and model it. Improve upon it, but learn their steps. They have knowledge, then it’s up to you to become resourceful and to take massive action.


“Promise yourself that you’re never going to settle for less than you can be, do, give, give or create.”  


My biggest setback was… Breaking my own limitations of what I thought was possible for me to achieve. These thoughts were based on old restrictive beliefs, and the boundaries of what others thought I could achieve.


I overcame it by… Changing my focus. I realized that there is a powerful strength inside of me and every other human being, and I decided to focus on that instead.


Work/life balance is… Getting up early. I have realized how to maximize my day by making the most of the hours I have in a day.  


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I love green smoothies, for their ability to be so nutrient dense. They help fuel my body with nutrients, they help my skin glow, my eyes to be brighter, and they give me continuous resilient energy.


I stay inspired by… Being mindful of what I focus on.  


The future excites me because… I am so excited about the future of Navy Street Charity for Persons with Disabilities.  


My next step is… Growing awareness for Navy Street Charity, donating portable wheelchair ramps to individuals who are disabled and wheelchair bound throughout Ontario; and on a personal endeavour, a book is in the pipeline…stay tuned.



Meet Stephanie Boyd, another Canadian woman with a deep passion for bringing those who are disadvantaged to the top of our minds  and hearts.


Northern Lights Aero Foundation

The foundation’s cause is to attract young women to enter careers in any sector of aviation and aerospace, by recognizing and celebrating the achievements of accomplished women in these fields.

We strive to inspire and encourage increased participation in aviation and aerospace by promoting awareness of the vast career opportunities within. We work closely with organizations to ensure they recognize and benefit from women’s diverse talents.

Visit our website: www.northernlightsaerofoundation.com