The Equal Voice Foundation mourns the passing of a Canadian trailblazer Dr. Rosemary Speirs, distinguished feminist activist, journalist, nature conservationist, philanthropist, and founding Chair of Equal Voice.
Equal Voice is forever indebted to Dr. Speirs, as without her, Equal Voice would not exist today.
The concept of a national organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada began over twenty years ago, emerging from a collaboration called the Committee for ‘94 aimed at realizing women comprising half of the House of Commons by 1994.
After a stellar career as a noted Canadian political journalist, Rosemary retired as a columnist and feature writer for The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. Rosemary then focused her energy to the pressing need for electing more women at all levels of government, including Band Councils, resulting in Equal Voice being created in 2001.
Rosemary Speirs worked tirelessly for many years to establish Equal Voice as a national organization. Always humble, yet fiercely determined, Rosemary successfully turned people’s attention to the issue all the while facing immense cynicism and sexism that was reflective of a time when even fewer women were elected than today. In the 21 years since Rosemary established Equal Voice, her efforts have had a tremendous impact on the current and future state of politics in Canada as we see rising numbers of elected women at all levels of government, more diverse women empowered and trained to run for office, and an ongoing national dialogue on the importance of having more women at the political decision-making table. Yet Rosemary would be the first to say that there is much more work to be done.
Raylene Lang was the National Chair of Equal Voice after Rosemary and remained very close to her throughout her life. In remembering Rosemary, Raylene said, “She was not someone to be ignored. By using her formidable intelligence, her journalistic skills, her tenacity, and her organizational talents, Rosemary kept alive the cause of political equality for women while bringing together feminist women and men from all political parties. Rosemary will always be considered a Canadian icon who all feminists will remain inspired to follow by seeing more women elected to public office.”
Rosemary remained involved and committed to Equal Voice’s work throughout her life and in 2019, Equal Voice recognized Rosemary Speirs’ immeasurable contributions by naming a recently launched community grant fund in her honour. The Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant provides Daughters of the Vote delegates with grants to accelerate advocacy efforts in their local communities.
We offer Rosemary’s son Murray and family our sincerest condolences. Rosemary’s family will be sharing details on her Celebration of Life in the near future.