Supporting the work of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN), the Grassroot Grannies advocate through displays, speaking engagements, media, letter writing campaigns, and participating in organized advocacy events. We have signed petitions, spoken to our MPs and marched on Parliament Hill several times urging our federal government to keep their promises.  

On this page of our website, we are now including the GRAN Updates on a bi-monthly basis.

GRAN Update - April & May 2018
Advocating for grandmothers, vulnerable children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Canadian grannies 
African grannies
Conference registration is now "live" on our web site and GRANs from across the country are signing up and making travel plans.
 With the theme, "Recognizing the Rights of Older Women as Human Rights", the program is really taking shape. 
We're including the program overview here, so that you can see what a great three days this will be to reflect, renew and rejoice!  

Program Overview

Monday June 4 

Opening Banquet: Our keynote speaker Monday evening is Dr. Samantha Nutt. One of the most original and influential voices in the humanitarian arena, Dr. Nutt is a medical doctor and founder of the internationally renowned non-profit, War Child. For over 15 years she has been at the frontlines of many of the world's major crises. Her book Damned Nations: Greed, Guns Armies and Aid details her experiences and will be available for signing. We know she will inspire us!

Hello Friends - June 4-7, 2018
Wednesday June 6 - Morning

Bigger than our Borders: Marie-Eve Marchand of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) will outline a Canada-wide campaign to encourage Canada to increase its investment in international assistance.
Older Women Count! Our own Peggy Edwards will lead us in an interactive discussion on how we can use GRAN's research on understanding and promoting the rights of older women in Africa to guide our work.
Climate Change: A Gender-based Perspective: Jane Rabinowicz, Executive Director of UCS will speak about building resilience among small scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through ecological agriculture, education and gender equality. Jane is co-founder of the Silver Dollar Foundation and was formerly Director of Development at Équiterre and Executive Director of Santropol Roulant. 

Our friends at the Africa Canada Forum and the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development are involved in the planning of our event and other partners will be invited.
We'll be asking all GRANs to contact their MPs to obtain an invitation to Question Period (you need to be on the list to get in) and to encourage their MP to this important dialogue and will be providing a template invitation to help with this soon.

Thursday June 7 - Morning

Thursday morning is devoted to learning opportunities with a number of workshops and presentations. You can choose to attend one of the following three workshops:

Measuring our Advocacy: Heather Fraser and Hilary Elliott will share strategies on how we can better measure the effectiveness of our advocacy.

Mining Justice: Victoria GRANs have been studying the negative impacts of large scale mining operations, many of which are headquartered in Canada, on the human rights of women in Africa. Come join their workshop to learn more about efforts in Canada to advocate for more meaningful accountability on the part of mining companies to live up to their social, environmental and human rights obligations. 

From Cat Calling to Sex Trafficking in Canada /Africa: A series of 6 mini videos presented by Golden Horseshoe GRANs with discussion questions on how videos can be used to build awareness, recruit new members and advocate on many GRAN issues. 

Creating a Successful Parliamentary Strategy: Everyone is invited to join us in plenary for a presentation and Q&A by Velma McColl, Managing Principal at Earnscliffe Strategies. Velma has advised Federal Cabinet Ministers on political strategy, policy and communications. Her career includes success as an entrepreneur and experience working collaboratively with business, academia, think tanks, not-for-profit organizations and the public sector.


Charting GRAN's Future Directions

After an overview by the Woking Groups, we will devote the afternoon to working in small groups to chart the future directions of GRAN. We will ask you to consider the following questions. Given our Vision, Mission and Mandate:
  • 1.What should GRAN's focus be going forward taking into consideration the needs of older women in sub-Saharan Africa and our current political environment, including the new Feminist International Assistance Policy?
  • 2.How should we organize ourselves so that we may have the most impact and make a difference with our advocacy?

Closing Banquet
Our closing banquet is dedicated to celebrating our wonderful partnerships and awarding the Order of GRAN. Our keynote speaker is Ketty Nivyabandi. An activist and poet, Ketty's leadership in mobilizing women in protest against her country's government led her to flee from persecution in Burundi to Canada. Ketty regularly speaks on human rights, refugee issues and the global effect of conflict on women's lives. Ketty has recently joined the staff of Nobel Women's Initiative as a Media Associate.

Tuesday June 5 - Morning

Voices from Africa: What we learned in Uganda: GRAN participants in the Uganda trip will share with us in pictures and words their amazing experiences in meeting with Ugandan grandmothers and the agencies that serve them.

Aging Activism: May Chazan, Research Chair in Gender and Women's Studies, Trent University. Many of you will remember May as an engaging speaker and great friend of GRAN. Her most recent research includes studying Activism Across Women's Lives: Rethinking the Politics of Grandmothering. May's presentation will be followed by a workshop on Nourishing the Grassroots where we ask you the questions "What inspires us? What moves us to action?"

Annual General Meeting: Looking Back - Looking Forward

Afternoon - Hill Event: We will walk or taxi to Parliament Hill to attend Question Period followed by a meeting with parliamentarians about our issues. Both the Global Health Caucus for AIDS, TB & Malaria and the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association (both made up of MPs and Senators) are supporting our event and are helping us with logistics and invitations. We anticipate lots of participation by parliamentarians. During the Hill event a GRAN representative will make a presentation to parliamentarians, sharing our insights and ideas with them about older women and grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa. This is a wonderful opportunity to have our voices heard by decision-makers in Ottawa.
While there is no news yet on the exact date for the work of the Standing Committee on Health on M132, we anticipate it will begin in May. A formal GRAN submission is with the Leadership Team for review/approval. The AMWG has prepared a proposal for an advocacy campaign to urge government action and funding support for more effective TB treatment regimes. We will carry this out alongside Médicins Sans Frontières, who have just launched a campaign on TB and have excellent materials for GRAN grassroots to use. All this will lead up to the United Nations meeting on TB scheduled for late September. The Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development is creating a list of civil society participants for this meeting. 
The AMWG prepared a letter for GRAN co-chairs to send to PM Trudeau, expressing support for the five themes (investing in growth, jobs for the future, gender equality, climate change, peaceful and secure world) for the upcoming G7 meeting, to be chaired by Canada. At the same time, we expressed disappointment that G7 Health Ministers will not be meeting.

Finally, we attended a Global Fund briefing on work under way to prepare for the 2019 replenishment funding. The Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector that raises and invests funds to accelerate the end to AIDS, TB and malaria. 

Please consider joining the next GRAN trip to Uganda to learn more about the lives of grandmothers and vulnerable young people - first hand! Our 2018 trip was so successful we are planning a follow-up. Details of the trip will be shared in the near future, but we are considering two weeks in early February at a cost of approximately $5000 (tax-deductible). If you have any questions at this stage, feel free to contact Heather Fraser We'd love to hear from you! 

At Hello Friends, you'll have a chance to hear first from participants in the Uganda 2018 trip. They'll be helping us experience what they learned in words and photos (and maybe even some dancing and drumming!) Another good reason to register: Click here to register.

Join Us in Uganda
Access to Medicines Working Group (AMWG) Report
Canada to champion Girls' Education at G7
Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that Canada will champion girls' education in crisis situations at the G7 Summit in June - backed by a significant financial investment. This is great news!

The announcement happened as the first W7 summit was wrapping up in Ottawa where over 60 feminist leaders from 20 countries met to develop recommendations for addressing gender discrimination and inequality in advance of the G7 Summit to be hosted here in Canada in June. 
in June. 
This announcement is of critical importance at this time because the world is witnessing the highest levels of refugees and displaced people since World War II. 

Children in crises often go their entire childhood living in uncertainty and millions are either out of school or never able to go at all.
  • * 75 million children and youth, predominately girls, are out of school in 35 crisis-affected countries.
  • * Families uprooted by conflict spend on average 26 years as refugees or as internally displaced people.
When girls are deprived of their right to go to school, they are more vulnerable to violence, discrimination and exploitation, including sexual violence, child marriage and adolescent pregnancy.
TB Campaign
Did you know? 
1) TB is a highly infectious and deadly lung disease and is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, killing more people each year than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined

 2) In 2016, 10.4 million people worldwide fell ill with TB, and 1.7 million died from the disease.

3) Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly Africa and Asia,

4) In 2016, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB (10% of the total infected) and 250 000 children died. This disease is hard to diagnose in children and the number of children receiving treatment is very low. There are no child-friendly drug formulations that are safe and effective, especially for those with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

5) TB is the leading killer of HIV positive people. In 2016, 40% of HIV deaths were due to TB.

6) TB is both curable and preventable. Social determinants of health - poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, overcrowding, lack of health and community resources - play a huge role in the spread of TB.  

7) Diagnosis is often difficult, and treatment is lengthy, arduous, outmoded, toxic and costly. Treatment failure rates are close to 50%. MSF reports very limited access to new drugs because of high costs and insufficient funds. Many never complete their full course of treatment, contributing to the development of drug-resistant TB. The incidence of MDR-TB is rising.

8) Here in Canada, TB is a continuing threat to Indigenous peoples, especially among the Inuit. Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, has recently announced a strategy and allocated funds in an effort to bring down the high rates of TB among the Indigenous people. Marc-Andre Gaudreau from Public Health Canada recently quoted that 64% of TB positive cases are located in Quebec and Ontario and that foreign born Canadians and Indigenous people form the high risk groups in Canada.
For these reasons GRAN has decided to join with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other organizations in calling on world leaders to #StepUpForTB and to take measures to address a global health emergency that kills millions of people each year.

In September of this year, the United Nations is inviting Leaders from around the world to a High Level Meeting to address the urgent need for improved funding for testing and treatment of TB.

GRAN is preparing a backgrounder for the website which will provide facts and figures on the current state of TB in sub-Saharan Africa. Also a template letter to the Prime Minister asking him to attend the UN meeting is being prepared and postcards will soon be available for distribution. These materials will be ready in the next month and you will be notified via the GRAN emails.

Woman with TB in Addis Abba, Ethiopia
Education and Health team up
Both Angela Quinlan from the Access to Medicines working group and Valerie Wright from the Education working group, participated in a webinar put on by the Global Partnership for Education on April 26th. This very informative webinar highlighted the connections between health and education and the need for them to work closely together. There will be two more sessions for this webinar topic.

Hill Team
The Hill Team is hard at work planning the Hello Friends Hill Event which takes place June 6th. We are getting lots of interest and support from the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association (CAPA) and the Global Health Caucus on AIDS, TB and Malaria. Our room is booked, our invitations are being sent from the Chairs of CAPA and work is beginning on a short presentation we will make to launch the dialogue with MPs. We are looking forward to a great event.