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Business and Professional Women’s Clubs

Professional and business women in Saskatchewan started to organize service and support groups in the early 1930s. The first Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (BPW) were formed in Saskatoon (1930) and Regina (1933). Membership included women prominent in business and in local legal and Education systems.

Initial club activities addressed local needs such as helping female students with tuition; but upon affiliation with the Federated Business and Professional Women of Canada, local topics shared space with national and international concerns. During the late 1930s, for example, clubs studied subjects such as “Economic Problems of Germany,” established a Peace Study Group, and donated funds to the Women’s Disarmament Committee. During the war, BPW members knitted and collected salvage for the war effort, as did other women’s groups, but remained advocates for women in business and public life. In the post-war reconstruction era they were foremost among those who lobbied for greater female representation on public boards and committees.

In 1946, Regina club member Ruth McGill became president of the Federated Business and Professional Women of Canada. This, and the success of a national conference held in Regina, energized existing clubs in Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon, and spurred the creation of new ones in the Battlefords, Kamsack, Rosetown, Shaunavon, and Swift Current. A Moose Jaw war service club and a Yorkton Business Girl’s Club became Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. The BPW concern for women’s rights began to consume more energies in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. In briefs to royal commissions and in meetings with elected officials, the clubs addressed subjects such as equal pay for work of equal value, matrimonial property rights, family planning, day care, and the involvement of women in politics. Although some clubs have folded and membership has declined, remaining clubs continue to work for women’s advancement and greater opportunities in business, professions, and the industry. In July 2004 Regina hosted the national convention.

Lisa Dale-Burnett

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This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
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