Marion Dewar Fund For Women's Leadership
"To end global poverty and injustice, we need to recognize and nurture women's leadership." - Marion Dewar
Marion Dewar knew that well and personified an approach to women's leadership that touched the lives of countless women and girls, men and boys and continues to inspire us still. She was rightly outraged by the injustice she saw in the world around her but her response was fueled by compassion and generosity of spirit. She was inclusive, consultative and innovative. She thought outside the box and tapped the insights and ingenuity of those on the front line. She listened but she took action, galvanizing those around her to have a greater impact.
Oxfam Canada works with many courageous, creative women around the world who against great odds are working to make a real difference in the lives of those who are most disadvantaged. To honour Marion Dewar and support these brave women, Oxfam Canada is creating the Marion Dewar Fund for Women's Leadership.
This Fund will support training, development and mentoring opportunities for women and girls in Africa, the Americas and Asia who are taking concrete action to promote equality and respect for human rights, linking them with others engaged in similar struggles.
As a public health nurse and community activist working with public housing tenants and single mothers, Marion bristled at the injustice and discrimination they faced and helped them organize to claim their rights.
As Mayor of Ottawa, she was a courageous leader who understood the power of community and the local roots to global justice. She called for action and took it to tackle poverty, improve child care and nurture healthy neighbourhoods. And she gave voice and empowered others to call for disarmament, an end to violence and equal rights for women.
Marion also served as a Member of Parliament and President of the New Democratic Party, bringing passion and principle to her public roles, holding governments to account to respect human rights and encouraging others to do the same.
Marion challenged prejudice, privilege and complacency. She indelibly changed the face of Canada by spearheading Project 4000, defying prevailing wisdom about how many refugees Canada could accept from Viet Nam and unleashing a remarkable wave of generosity as communities from coast to coast mobilized to resettle large numbers in their midst. It was but one example among many though perhaps the most exhilarating where Marion's conviction and compassion helped create new possibilities and demonstrate the power of change.
Marion served as Chair of the Board of Oxfam Canada from 1994 to 1999, playing a key role in support of Oxfam International in its early years and contributing to the thinking that brought Oxfam to adopt its rights-based approach to its development, humanitarian and advocacy work. Whether visiting poor shantytowns or advocating for more and better aid or building alliances, her commitment to genuine relations of partnerships and solidarity was absolute.
As an advocate for human rights for women and girls, men and boys, people of different races, religions, abilities and sexual orientations Marion was a trailblazer who put people at the centre of her world view. She will be greatly missed but her values, her passion, her energy and her spirit continue to inspire us.