Established in 1960, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) is a non-partisan Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) comprised of a network of diverse women with consultative status at the United Nations ECOSOC. For 55 years, VOW has tirelessly advocated for a world without war.
VOW is one of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) cited by UNESCO’s standing committee in the working group report entitled “The Contribution of Women to the Culture of Peace”. An accredited NGO to the United Nations, affiliated to the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), VOW was the Canadian lead group for peace at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Members have been active in follow-up activities, including writing the chapter,”Women and Peace” in Take Action for Equality, Development and Peace.
We are a part of a growing and select number of NGOs that provide women the opportunity to appeal to national government and international diplomats, attend conferences at the United Nations including the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and to write and present briefs and statements to political heads of state and nations worldwide on women and peace issues. We readily respond to calls for guidance and research on peace and women’s issues locally, nationally, and internationally. VOW is a non-partisan, non-religious organization that values women in all their diversities.
To provide a means for women to exercise responsibility for the promotion of world peace and justice, through education of themselves and others to take an equal part in the democratic process of decision making; and to cooperate with women throughout the world to create the mutual respect and understanding necessary for the peaceful resolution of international conflict.
Our National & International Affiliations
VOW’s national and international network includes peace organizations such as the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace & Security, the Noble Laureate International Peace Bureau.
We are founding members of the Canadian Peace Alliance that boasts over 4 million supporters across the country. We work alongside the International 1325 Working Committee on Women, Peace & Security and are members of FAFIA- the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and founding members of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC).
VOW Nominated for the Millenium Peace Prize for Women
On being nominated for the Millennium Peace Prize for Women. the eminent Rosalie Bertell, Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart describes VOW: “From the outset, the organization’s philosophy has been one of inclusiveness and outreach to other women, refusing to accept labeling of other women as “enemy.” They espouse and practice peace-building through cooperation. Their record speaks of the mobilization of women, and public and governmental education.”
Former Senator and Member of the Order of Canada, Hon. Douglas Roche called the attention of the Federal Senate to the historical role of women and the challenges faced by modern women legislators to advance peace and human security:
“Women in Canada and around the world are recognizing that peace is in their direct interest and are taking a leading role in resolving conflict. The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, formed in 1960, played a leading role in promoting disarmament and reconciliation… in petitioning the government not to accept nuclear weapons on Canadian soil. How right the Voice of Women was then and now in the opposition they and like-minded groups displayed toward the recent Iraq war.”
Our humble VOW beginnings began in 1960 when women across Canada were alarmed about the threat of nuclear war and how nuclear testing was endangering their children’s lives. Lotta Dempsey wrote columns in the Toronto Star asking women to write to her if they were willing to “do something” about this imminent danger. Hundreds replied. Four women, Jo Davis, Dorothy Henderson, Helen Tucker and Beth Touzel met with Lotta Dempsey and shortly thereafter “The Voice of Women” was established. Within months, thousands of women joined VOW that began to receive newsletters urging women to form small local groups to keep in touch with one another and to encourage all their female friends to join and unite for world peace.
“The Voice of Women was joined by other voices around the country; individuals and peace groups, who urged Diefenbaker to refuse the (nuclear) warheads.” Read more about VOW on the CBC’s “Canada, A People’s History”.
Join VOW in our quest for sustainable peace.
VOW in this new millennium
- continues to participate at all levels, in the global women’s peace movement at UN meetings in New York and elsewhere, with national networks, and, locally, from coast– to- coast instigates a variety of programs;
- conducts study/consultation tours each year to the UN to help implement UN resolutions re women’s equality, especially UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. We fully participated in the lead-up and successful adoption of this historic resolution;
- continually strengthens its mandate in ways which address our core understanding that the war system needs to whither. We find opportunities to address disarmament concerns, reduction of military budgets, linkages to environment and health issues;
- moved into the field of human rights education with training launched first in 2000 in Toronto and more and more since, domestically and internationally;
- established the de-legitimization of war as a priority in 2003 and since have prepared briefs, workshops, resolutions and dramas , internationally and locally, toward this and, building a sustainable peace;
- maintains active affiliation with international bodies such as UNESCO, the International Peace Bureau and the International Working Group on Women, Peace and Security;
- created, and launched (2007) with the Department of Foreign Affairs, a VOW-coordinated bi-lingual touring exhibit “ Building Peace Making History”, 5 panels documenting a century of Canadian women’s peace activism. It has travelled widely and is available for the cost of shipping;
- stepped up a public education campaign on the “Achilles heel” of nuclear weapons – nuclear energy (2009). Internationally, we call for the cessation of the exploration and mining of uranium;
- In 2010, we turned fifty with many celebrations, launched two plays on the Person’s Case and Security Council resolution 1325, and 2 projects – the creation of a documentary film and book about VOW;
- Launched 2 training camps (2012) for young women’s peace leadership.