Women Test their Political Savvy at Annual Women's Conference

September 9, 2008, 1:28 AM EST

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Dissecting the Canadian political system was the primary focus of the 2008 CAW Women's Conference, with the goal of empowering women to push for change, according to Julie White, CAW director of women's programs. The conference was held on August 17 -20 at the Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

This year's theme was 'Is this what equality looks like?' with workshops geared towards fostering direct involvement in the political system. The conference brought together 250 participants in addition to more than 50 teenagers and children.

The conference opened with a speech by then CAW President Buzz Hargrove and featured a key note address by Carol Phillips, assistant to the CAW national president.

On the first day, participants examined the functions and the impact different levels of government have on socio-economic policies, especially as they relate to women. "The workshop focused on how government decisions effect the every day lives of women -especially on issues of childcare, housing, poverty, all of which disproportionately impact women," said White.

The second day was action-oriented where women could choose from eight different workshops meant to hone skills for political engagement -such as lobbying, communicating to the media, public speaking and others -all developed around specific real-life scenarios. The conference also featured a networking session where women formed action groups across different sectors according to their region.

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