Centre for Women's Studies in Education (CWSE)
The CWSE is a research centre at the University of Toronto, housed within OISE. It brings together feminist faculty, staff, students, researchers, educators, scholars and activists at OISE, U of T, and the larger Toronto communities. We are home to the annual International Women's Human Rights Education Institute, Resources for Feminist Research Journal (RFR/DRF) and the Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitor Program that brings inspiring feminist activists from the majority world to teach at the U of T.
CWSE is committed to promoting, supporting, and enriching feminist work at OISE and UofT; and connecting scholarship, education, and activism through constructive and critical dialogues with feminist communities locally, nationally, and globally.
Address: CWSE, OISE, University of Toronto, Room 2-225 (2nd Floor), 252 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1V6.
Office Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 12:00pm to 5:00pm.
General inquiries: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd like to receive information about upcoming activities and events, let us know via email at email@example.com and we will add you to our mailing list.
Upcoming CWSE Events
CWSE supports the following statement from the Women & Gender Studies Institute at U of T:
Letter from U of T faculty regarding transphobic and anti-Black hate speech and threats
We, the undersigned faculty and members of the University of Toronto, condemn recent on-campus and online incidents of transphobic and anti-black hate speech and threats at the university. Hate speech should not be tolerated under the banner of free speech. Racist and transphobic harassment and hate speech are against U of T’s Statement on Human Rights (2012), the policy on Freedom of Speech and its Statement on Equity, Diversity, and Excellence.
We welcome the statement issued by the university administration, condemning the social media attacks on LGBTQI identified students. We call on the university administration to detail what it will do to prevent the continuation of such incidents, thus making it clear that there is no room for anti-black and anti-transgender hate speech at the University of Toronto. We also ask what it means to create an environment in which we are not simply reacting to hate speech and threats against members of our community, and thus ensuring that we are not tacitly legitimating an atmosphere of harassment and hostility towards transgender, gender non-binary, and black students, staff and faculty.
As faculty and members of the University of Toronto, we also commit to challenging racism and transphobia, and to building classrooms, departments, debates, and events in which transgender, gender-nonbinary, queer, black and racialized students and faculty can work and study with support and without harassment. We stand in solidarity with colleagues and students who are standing up to these unacceptable hostile conditions for their work and study.
If you would like to sign this letter, please click on this link:
We will be collecting signatures until 5 p.m. on Wednesday October 18th. The letter will be sent to the administration and the Varsity.
WGSI and The List
(On behalf of Black Lives Matter - Toronto)
BLACK LIVES MATTER- TORONTO #BLMTOTENTCITY SOLIDARITY STATEMENT
We have all watched with increasing dismay and concern the treatment of Black Lives Matter- Toronto protesters and allies by Toronto Police Services. On the evening of March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Toronto police circled and ambushed peaceful protestors. Children, young women and men, trans people, disabled people and their friends were shoved, punched, and pushed on to the ground. Their materials were smashed, tents and personal belongings were taken, and a barrel of fire to keep them warm was extinguished with an unknown toxic waste. All of this has been widely reported in the media.
The unprovoked police action on peaceful protesters raising their concerns about Anti-Black violence is unacceptable to us.
Black Torontonians and their allies are outside of Toronto Police Headquarters right now on their 4th day of occupation to challenge anti-Black racism in our city. Like the many people who continue to resist, we share concerns about anti-Black State violence, excessive use of police force, erasure of Black cultural spaces, etc. The murder of Andrew Loku still haunts us, as is the decision of the SIU not to indict his killer reinforces the fact that Black lives are dispensable to the SIU and Toronto Police Services. The City of Toronto’s decision to impose undue restrictions on Afrofest, including limiting the award-winning festival to one day is appalling. Destruction of Black spaces is violence.
As civil society organizations, representing diverse communities and constituents, we condemn the Toronto Police’s excessive use of force against #BLMTOtentcity protesters.
We ask Mayor John Tory, Chief Mark Saunders, and Kathleen Wynne to agree to Black Lives Matter - Toronto’s demands, including:
● The release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku.
● Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku.
● The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex of Andrew Loku on the night he
● An apology to the family of Andrew Loku and monetary compensation.
● An overhaul of the Special Investigations Unit, with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence,the Black community, and the community-at-large
● A reversal to all city-mandated changes imposed on Afrofest, including its restoration to a 2-day festival
Black Lives Matter -Toronto and their allies outside Toronto Police Headquarters are not alone. The fight against Anti-Black racism is immediate and urgent, and we are calling on our policy makers to take action.
To sign this letter of support, click here
CWSE Head Jamie Magnusson in Conversation with OISE Faculty on International Women's Day
OISE scholars: International Women’s Day – why it matters
Above, protestors demand rights for Aboriginal women on College Street in Toronto. (Photo: Barb Nahwegahbow, Windspeaker Contributor, Aboriginal Multi-Media Society)
To recognize International Women’s Day, OISE News’ Lindsey Craig led a virtual chat with feminist scholars at OISE for an insight into what International Women’s Day means to them.
Hear about their work on women’s rights, and find out which women inspire them – from ‘the Rosas’ to an 85-year-old friend and activist, who has spent her life fighting for what she believes is right. Read below to be inspired!
Plus - see below for more about our OISE panel, as interviewed by OISE’s new Communications, Media Relations and Public Relations specialist, Lindsey Craig
Prof. Abigail Bakan: First of all, thanks for e-bringing us together. As you know, International Women’s Day is recognized around the world, but we should not take the rights that women have won for granted. The day originated from a concerted effort among socialist feminists, originally known as “International Working Women’s Day”, and many of the demands of that movement in the early part of the last century remain to be won. While I think about the movement throughout the year, this date, in particular, is a moment to reflect on where we have come from, and on how much more we need to do.
Prof. Kathleen Gallagher: As with Abbie, the day does demand reflection. For me, it triggers early days of teaching girls at a Toronto high school, when creating a community of critical, young women felt like a crucially important vocation. I also think of my 20-something feminist self and draw a line between that young woman and the mother I now am, thinking everyday about how to raise a son who will help build communities of socially-conscious people, engaged in questions of equality and social justice.
Prof. Ann Lopez: I agree with Kathleen – it’s a day to not only reflect on inequalities women have faced in the past, but also consider what we can do to empower women today and into the future. There is a lot of work to be done to achieve equal pay and shatter the glass ceiling in many countries around the world. Personally, I have been celebrating International Women’s Day since my undergraduate studies in Jamaica, where I also worked with women's organizations to bring attention to the plight of women in their fight for equality. And what I’d also like to mention - this day is also of particular significance to me as well because I received my Ph.D. on this day in 2005.
Prof. Jamie Magnusson: What a day that must have been, Ann! I agree with my colleagues here and would just add that most of all, this day reminds me of how successes in our struggles to dismantle systems of violence against women are experienced unevenly internationally. From my Marxist lens, increasingly, we have a globally integrated system of crisis capitalism that affects women most of all – Indigenous, racialized and poor women in particular. Currently, as a result of displacement through wars and various social crises and disasters, we are witnessing the ongoing gendering of mass migrations to international mega-cities. And so the struggle continues.
AB:I have learned a great deal in my own scholarship, in particular, from the lives and experiences of immigrant women workers in Canada and internationally. Gender, race, political economy and citizenship are part of a continuum, where state power and resistance to that power, are shaped by movements of masses of people of colour across borders. International Women’s Day marks a moment to honour these women workers and their families.
KG: Yes, that’s right, Abbie. And I think for myself, today is a day that makes me proud to be a feminist scholar. It’s a day that reminds me of all the good work that has been accomplished through research, community action and schools. It also symbolizes how much we need to continue to learn, as feminist organizations and solidarity movements challenge the logic of patriarchy, and as feminist and anti-racist movements and scholarship challenge themselves, pointing to blind spots and vested interests. It’s a day that always makes me want to remember the many people I have learned from in my professional and personal life – and the gains yet to be made locally and globally.
AL: Agreed. It makes me think of the ongoing work to achieve equity for all marginalized groups. The recognition that we all come from multiple locations, with differing identities and experiences is important. Achieving equity is an ongoing journey – even though women have made gains, we cannot get comfortable as there are many countries where young girls and women continue to be oppressed.
JM: Absolutely. And in the work I do, in particular, I also see much of this oppression and inequality here in our own backyard. For example, I work with youth, women, and trans women in Toronto who have been trafficked in the domestic sex industry.
In the community centre where I lend my services, we build community in a trans-positive women’s-only space. That there continues to be a need for women’s-only spaces is never more apparent than in this setting. International Women’s Day celebrates the historical process whereby we now recognize that women require these relatively buffered safe zones. As the head of the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE, we are indebted to the struggles that took place historically that we celebrate on this day, to create spaces such as this centre, so that we can continue to innovate knowledge in ways that are meaningful to us and how we are located in our various communities.
AL: I’m inspired by so many women – how much time do we have? (laughs). I would first say, my grandmother, who taught me by example to fight against injustice, and for those she described as “less fortunate”. She voted in every election in Jamaica (always for the progressive party I might say); hated bigotry and discrimination. Then, I would say, Nanny of the Maroons, National Heroine in Jamaica who fought against slavery; Harriet Tubman; Rosa Parks; American women who fought against slavery and segregation; Viola Desmond who challenged racial segregation in Nova Scotia; Yuri Kochiyama, civil rights leader and activist. Their courage, bravery and tenacity in the face of untold oppression and discrimination are beyond inspiring.
AB: Yes – I was also going to mention Rosa Parks, and another Rosa as well. These two Rosas, lived at different times and places. Rosa Luxemburg, who died in 1919, and Rosa Parks, who died in 1977, were both influential in shaping movements that challenged war and racism. I lived through such a movement in the US in the 1960s and 70s.
Among many women who inspire OISE experts interviewed here is Rosa Parks, pictured above following arrest for refusing to give her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus. (Photo: @GreatRarePhotos/Twitter)
KG: You know, there are so many women that come to mind for me, too. If I were to pick one, I think right now I feel most inspired by an 85-year-old friend, who is an anti-poverty and environmental activist and a woman who has become a great friend to my eight year old son. Her name is Ann Emmett and she is a self-taught economist. She has spent the last decade in a lawsuit against the Canadian government for secret meetings in Switzerland in the 1960s that resulted in the privatization of the Bank of Canada. She’s one of the busiest women I know, with commitments to several organizations that aim to hold leaders accountable, and groups focused on the health of our planet. I hope as I age, I can maintain a fraction of the energy and clarity of purpose that she has.
JM: She does sound like an incredible woman, Kathleen. For myself, I think for this last question, I can’t help but draw on my work experience. I think of the women working toward international solidarity in the fight against violence against women and transwomen. When my sisters organized a ‘take-back-the-streets’ march in 2014 in Toronto, under the banner of “Decolonizing Feminism Globally: From Turtle Island to Palestine”, I could not help but to be inspired. The courage and vision of these women make me happy and thankful on a daily basis that I get to create relevant courses, write relevant scholarly pieces, and participate in community struggles as part of my work in OISE.
More about OISE’s feminist scholars featured here:
Honouring Dorothy Smith
Interview with former CWSE Director, Dorothy Smith about her long-standing work experience with OISE and CWSE.
Dorothy Smith, creator of the Institutional Ethnography method, is an internationally renowned feminist sociologist. Institutional Ethnography is a method of social inquiry that explores how institutions and organizations are put together, and the experience of those who work in and with them are impacted by them. It begins from the standpoint of people’s everyday lives and real concerns while exploring the organization of power which is outside the range of people’s own knowledge. Dorothy Smith has research interests in many disciplines including women's studies, psychology, and educational studies, as well as subfields of sociology including feminist theory (specifically standpoint theory), family studies, and methodology.
“In 1977 I went, accompanied by a group of graduate students, to teach in the sociology department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), at that time a remarkable place of openness to new thinking. I arrived just after the hiring of another feminist, Margrit Eichler, and at the same time as Mary O’Brien. Though it wouldn’t be true to say that OISE was progressive in its views on women, the sociology department had a number of feminist students and all of us working together were successful in introducing transformations that I don’t think could have taken place at that time anywhere else. It was there that I began to write a sociology for women, discovering and formulating an uneasiness that had indeed been there since my days at Berkeley when, even back then, I’d thought that there was something very wrong with how sociologists thought and, for the most part, still think.” – Dorothy Smith
If you would like to learn more about Dorothy Smith’s lifelong feminist works, please read about her life as recorded in her own words here: http://classiques.uqac.ca/contemporains/smith_dorothy/smith_dorothy_photo/smith_dorothy_photo.html
A message from CWSE Head, Jamie Magnusson regarding the recent threat to Feminists at UofT:
Those of us in Women and Gender Studies, and who are feminist sociologists, understand that our academic work is a political struggle. Our diverse histories of exclusion from academia have compelled us to work closely with women’s communities, creating knowledge, building solidarity, and mobilizing against gendered oppressions.
The work that we take on through our teaching and research challenges the multiple systems that organize violence against women. We study gendered migration, sex work, child trafficking, cartographies of diaspora, missing and murdered Aboriginal women, the racist militarized police state, super-exploitation, the gendered impact of war, poverty, and insecurity. No wonder so many women have endured death threats in the course of their academic work. We are doing political work to dismantle powerful systems: colonialism, imperialism, racism. Death threats are not new to us. Silencing is not new to us.
This past Friday, September 11, I was sitting in the President’s Council Chambers where an emergency meeting was organized by central administration on the most recent death threats. I was thinking about Sunera Thobani and her post-9-11 speech at the Conference on Women’s Resistance. Her speech, which challenged U.S. imperialism, and called for mobilizing solidarity with Afghanistan women, made her the target of hate mail, harassment, and death threats. I was wondering about how many women in that room at that moment had endured death threats over the course of their careers as activists and academics.
We are here today because the long history of death threats and attacks against women and feminists on Canadian campuses continues. This past friday, those of us present in the president’s council’s chambers heard a presentation by a forensic psychiatrist who, along with the Toronto Police Services, determined these threats were ‘low risk’. As feminist activists and scholars who work to end gendered violence we have many examples of the Toronto Police Services’s failure to provide women with the necessary information to protect themselves in situations where there has been a known threat of violence. The decision to not share this information with feminist scholars in the targeted departments, and in other feminist and trans spaces across the university, represents the lack of acknowledgement of feminist scholars’ and activists’ expertise on gendered violence.
The targetted nature of the threats signals to us that we need to continue to struggle against these forms of institutional complicity that denies voice and visibility in situations where our work, teaching and activist lives on campuses are affected.
Women and Gender Studies represents a site of knowledge production and activism wherein the systems that organize gendered violence is challenged full on. At the same time, Women and Gender Studies and feminist sociology is under threat on many fronts. Increasingly our professors are precarious workers, living in poverty and paid from contract to contract, and from stipend to stipend. Institutional funding for the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE has been reduced to a shadow of what is was a few years ago. Funding to our journals, our programs, and our centres has been restructured to mirror the knowledge production of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, which emphasize corporate funding and commercialized knowledge transfer. These politics prioritize the private sector, and do not acknowledge the contribution that Women and Gender Studies makes to the public sphere and civil society.
As we stand here today to protest this egregious attack on our work as feminist educators and activists on campus, let’s resolve to challenge the multiple ways that our knowledge making and activism is under threat. At the same time let’s celebrate the fearlessness and perseverance we have always shown and continue to demonstrate in our work as anti-racist feminists, lgbq and trans scholars and activists.
In Solidarity and Struggle,
Jamie Magnusson, CWSE Interim Head
Photo collage by Daisy Zhu