What a privilege it is to serve as President of The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women, now in my second year.
My first year of presidency began right after hosting the 45th Biennial Convention in Calgary during the Centennial Year of Women’s Suffrage when we paid tribute to 100 organizations across Canada. It has indeed been an eventful year for me and it has been a pleasure representing BPW Canada at almost 30 events (on average 2-3 events a month from coast to coast to coast). The five key highlights for me during my first year as President have been:
- Appointments of national chairpersons from across the country to lead our priority areas – Women in Politics, Violence Against Women, Women’s Empowerment, Equal Pay, Climate, Health, and Human Trafficking; Our priority areas are now mainly led by subject matter experts who are professionals practicing in these fields. They have submitted high quality resolutions this year focusing on relevant women’s issues that will have huge impact on Canadian working women;
- Review and analysis of our existing membership recruitment strategies through the lens of diversity and inclusion. As a result, we have launched two new clubs, BPW Canada Online and BPW Montreal;
- Engagement with government leaders and senators, educational and financial institutions, business and corporate leaders, professionals from various industries, and civil societies;
- Showcasing women’s achievements across the country by not only recognizing 100 women’s organizations across Canada during the Calgary Convention but also focusing internally and presenting Visionary Awards to our own members who are truly leaders. BPW Visionaries took their seats around the Confederation Chamber Table in Charlottetown after the AGM which ended with a powerful presentation titled “Steering BPW Canada during Canada 150: Carving a Collective Bold Vision”. This summer, we also highlighted a Canadian Producer during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and presented a Recognition Award to Erika Olde, a BPW Grand Cayman Member, who is paving the road to equality for Women in the Film Industry;
- Participation at the International level by representing BPW Canada on BPW International’s Legislation Committee as well as the International Peace and Intercultural Understanding Committee to weigh in on topics such as Women on Boards and Women, Peace and Security.
In my role as president, I have also participated in media interviews and speaking engagements to convey our priority areas and have been actively pursuing sponsorships and future partnerships both nationally and internationally. I will continue with this in my second year with an even more ambitious goal of growing our membership to welcome women of diverse backgrounds – not only in ethnicity or culture, race and religion but also diverse in age, in thought, in occupation and in industry.
We must all do our part as members and leaders of BPW Canada. We must be bold, locally and nationally, and go a step further…. During my presentation at the BPW International Leaders’ Summit last year, I mentioned that being open to diversity out of necessity or survival is “tolerating differences”. We must go beyond diversity and strive for pluralism. Pluralism is “embracing differences”. This does not happen automatically; it requires deliberate actions and it starts with mutual respect for one another. This core value is embedded in our vision at BPW Canada.
I am looking forward to this second year of my presidency especially with the upcoming BPW International Congress in Cairo. This will be my first trip to Egypt to present on Issues affecting Canadian Women and I invite you to join our Canadian delegation. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome your participation to three significant events in 2018 – BPW International Leaders’ Summit just prior to the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from March 12-23 as well as the 46th Biennial Convention to be held in Ottawa from August 10-12.
It was Nellie McClung, the founding member of my home club, BPW Calgary who said that “In Canada we are developing a pattern of life and I know something about one block of that pattern… I helped make it.” I have always believed that BPW is a “Way of Life” and as BPW members each one of us understands our motto of “Women Working for Working Women”. Our vision has always been to improve conditions for women in our own backyards, in our neighbourhoods, in our workplaces, in our communities and societies at large. Let’s continue on that path to make a difference whether it is through mentorship, scholarships, networking, advocacy, education or awareness. Each one of you is making a difference and having a powerful impact!
Jenny Gulamani-Abdulla, BA, JD, RCIC
BPW Canada President
President’s Message 2016-2017
It is my deep honour to serve as President of The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women for the upcoming term, 2016 to 2018. It has also been a moment of immense pride to host the 45th Biennial Convention in Calgary. As I mentioned at our Centennial Gala and Awards night, when we marked the Centennial Year of Women’s Suffrage by paying tribute to 100 organizations across Canada, that “the last time Calgary hosted a national convention was in 1935, the 5th Biennial Convention”. It was, therefore, quite meaningful to welcome delegates across Canada to our city after 81 years and during a significant Canadian milestone, the 100th anniversary of when women were granted the right to vote in our country.
It is noteworthy that the last time a member of the Calgary club held the position of national president was in 1962. It was Una Maclean Evans in 1960 to 1962 and it was during her presidency that we held our national convention in St, Andrews, New Brunswick. I find it very interesting that President Maclean Evans was a Citizenship Court Judge and as many of you know I have been practicing in the area of Immigration for the last 22 years and so, for me, it is quite symbolic to lead BPW Canada comprising of very active citizens and residents across Canada rooted in a broad range of businesses and professions. I am grateful to our Greater Moncton Club for their generosity in offering to host our 2017 AGM in New Brunswick. It is my hope that after the AGM we also visit Charlottetown, the Birthplace of Confederation, to reflect collectively.
My term of office has begun on a high note with an intimate conversation with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Her Honour the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell during our celebration of the Centennial Year of Women’s Suffrage as we shared a meal during the Centennial Gala. I look forward to another very prominent moment in history, Canada’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Confederation. So as our country plans a year long celebration to commemmorate its 150th anniversary of Confederation across the country, as a Federation, we will also set very high goals to double our membership in Canada and reach out to women from diverse backgrounds. It is time for each one of us to do our part to support diversity and inclusion.... and we will start by focusing on Canada’s largest and most diverse cities to develop all women’s potential while improving conditions for all women.
We must also remember that we are part of an International Federation with over 35,000 members globally across 95 countries with Consultative One Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Every year when I attend the BPW International Leaders’ Summit and the Sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York, I am reminded of the realities of women’s lives worldwide and how governments, UN entities, businesses, civil societies and people like you and I can come together to promote the advancement of women locally, nationally and globally.
As members of BPW Canada, I invite you to experience these two events with me – BPWI Leaders’ Summit on March 11-13 and CSW61 on March 14-24. It was Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five and Founding Member of BPW Calgary who once said “I am a believer in women, in their ability to do things and in their influence and power. Women set the standards for the world, and it is for us, women in Canada, to set the standards high”. I firmly believe that in Canada, women are strong, we are ambitious and we have the conviction! It is by working together that we can achieve earlier and greater progress for all.
Jenny Gulamani-Abdulla, BA, JD, RCIC
President, BPW Canada
READ THE 2017 AGM MESSAGE HERE.
READ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2017 MESSAGE HERE.
READ EQUAL PAY DAY & 65TH ANNIVERSARY MESSAGE FOR BPW SELKIRK HERE.