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 Rosanne Hertogh, founder of Sololu

Rosanne Hertogh is the founder and designer of Sololu, a lifestyle brand that specializes in ethically made, seasonless women’s clothing. As an avid traveler, Rosanne’s mission is to inspire women to live life to the fullest and empower them to feel beautiful and confident while doing so, all while making ethical and sustainable clothing choices.





My first job ever was… Being a babysitter to my little cousins –I loved spending time with them. I was quite young, but simply loved it (and the fact that I was making a bit of money for the first time).


I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to do what I am passionate about, make my own rules and create something I was missing.


My proudest accomplishment is… Receiving a government grant after putting in a lot of time and effort to get my business plan and presentation in front of a jury approved.


My boldest move to date was… Moving to Canada from the Netherlands.


I surprise people when I tell them… I auditioned for the Dutch versions of American Idol and X-Factor when I was 16.


Starting a business with an ethical purpose is… What a lot more entrepreneurs should do. I can’t imagine my clothing designs being made under terrible work conditions. I like to treat people the way I’d like to be treated and that’s why the choice for being ethical was simple. I find it important to have my clothing made in an ethical work environment and keep our planet, the people we share it with, the environment and our future generations in mind.


My best advice to people trying to get an idea off the ground is… Start working on it as soon as you can, before someone else does, and start small – you can always invest in it more (money and time wise) once things take off. Also, do your research of course. Nowadays there’s a ton of information available online and there may have been others who have done or launched something similar to your idea that could be helpful to you.


My best advice from a mentor was… Trust your instincts.


My biggest setback was… Finding a right manufacturer for my clothing collection who is ethical and shares the same values.


I overcame it by… Not giving up and keep searching for that right manufacturer.


Work/life balance is… A healthy combination between living life to the fullest and working on your passion.


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’ve lived in Italy for an internship.


I stay inspired by… Traveling – visiting new places and meeting new people.


The future excites me because… I have so many ideas for my business and lots of fun things coming up with family and friends.


My next step is… Creating and adding new clothing designs to Sololu’s current collection that contribute to a better everyday life, whether at home or abroad. I’d love to add more collections as well, such as swimwear and loungewear. My goal is to become as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. It would be nice to become an inspiring go-to brand for women that travel on a regular basis or lead active lives.




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

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!



How Olympic gold medalist Natalie Spooner is inspiring the next generation of girls

As a young girl growing up playing hockey, Natalie Spooner felt she didn’t have much to aspire to within the sport of hockey. Now an Olympic gold medalist and Canadian Women’s Hockey League All-Star, she’s inspiring the next generation of girls through initiatives like Project North and Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest.



By Shelley White



In the hamlet of Gjoa Haven, NU, Olympic gold medalist Natalie Spooner was almost 3000 kilometres north of her Toronto home when she got the chance to meet two young girls who reminded her of when she was a hockey-crazed kid.

In collaboration with Scotiabank, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, the National Hockey League, First Air and Project North, a not-for-profit organization, Natalie experienced the trip of a lifetime in helping bring hockey equipment and inspiration to Canada’s Northern communities.

“The girls’ teacher spoke up and said they were really into hockey and I got to take some pictures with them and speak to them. I could tell they were super excited that we were there and that we brought hockey equipment,” says Natalie, forward for Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) team – and 2014 Clarkson Cup champs – the Toronto Furies.

“It made me think of me when I was little – I also loved the game of hockey and it was my passion, so it was cool to be able to relate to them.”

It was one of many special moments for Natalie and her Project North teammates during their tour of six Nunavut communities in April. In addition to distributing 150 bags of new hockey equipment, the Rumie Initiative, a non-profit that makes access to free digital education possible for underserved communities, donated 150 tablets pre-loaded with educational content in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Community members also had the chance to see and touch the hallowed symbol of our country’s beloved sport, the Stanley Cup®, and meet Stanley Cup® champion, Lanny McDonald.

During her whirlwind tour, Natalie says it quickly became clear that hockey is just as popular in the North as it is in Canada’s more southerly locales.

“To meet the people and the kids up there, they might not have all the resources we have, but they love hockey. They have such a passion for the game,” she says.

As a kid growing up in Scarborough, ON, sports were a central focus in Natalie’s life. She says participating in everything from soccer to hockey to field hockey gave her a lot – physically, mentally and emotionally. Being on teams helped develop perseverance and responsibility, and hockey in particular was a great source of joy.

“I was a little bit shy when I was younger, and sports helped me have the confidence to go out there and play hard, and then feel accomplished after, knowing that I helped my team,” she says. “And I still feel like every time I get on the ice, it’s my happy place.”


“I was a little bit shy when I was younger, and sports helped me have the confidence to go out there and play hard, and then feel accomplished after, knowing that I helped my team”


Natalie began participating in organized sports at age four, playing on a boys’ team for one year before joining the Durham West Lightning Girls Hockey Association where she played for 12 seasons. Being a girl in hockey could sometimes be challenging, she says, knowing that she couldn’t aspire to reach the same heights as the boys, simply because a career in the NHL wasn’t available to her.

“I was pretty lucky because I played on a girls’ team growing up, so I was surrounded by a lot of other girls who had the same goals,” says Natalie. “But I also had three older brothers and I wanted to be just like them, and I figured out that I couldn’t exactly follow in their footsteps.”

She considers her gold medal win with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, to be the pinnacle of her career. And it’s gratifying to know that girls can now aspire to play for the CWHL, says Natalie. She’s proud to think that her example is helping fuel the dreams of young women.

Natalie recently took part in Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest, a free event with the Toronto Maple Leafs aimed at creating a positive hockey experience for girls in the Toronto area. Young hockey fans had the opportunity to meet Natalie, learn some new on-ice techniques and take home a keepsake hockey jersey.

“Just to see all the girls come out to learn some skills – they are super-pumped to be there and they all want to learn,” says Natalie. “It’s inspiring for me, too, to know that I am making a difference to them. They are the future of women’s hockey.”

Even with all the strides women in hockey have made in recent years, it still can be a difficult choice for women to pursue their passion rather than go with a more lucrative profession, says Natalie.

“One of the toughest decisions for me when I came out of university was, ‘Do I continue with hockey or do I go to med school?’ I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make the Olympic team or not,” she says. “But I think it’s getting better, and it’s only going to keep improving if girls keep playing sports and we keep pushing for what we deserve.”


“It’s getting better, and it’s only going to keep improving if girls keep playing sports and we keep pushing for what we deserve.”


Natalie says she and her colleagues in the CWHL hope the sport will grow to the point that women can make a living playing hockey full-time, and that’s part of the reason they are more than willing to take part in charitable and promotional activities that will help grow the game.

“We love hockey and we’re passionate about it,” she says. “We know there’s a long way to go still to get to the level we want the game to be at, but hopefully by the time those little girls grow up, they can make a living by playing hockey. As long as we’re doing our part, it’s going to get there eventually.”



Photo Credit: MIV Photography
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