Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 1, 2008
Real Women gives “alternative voice”
Fifty Thousand women embrace a plethora of societal and family causes
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
They (the secular media) thought if they ridiculed us, and made fun of us that we would disappear."
On the evening before they filed in September 1983, they decided on REAL (for Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life) Women of Canada and the organization was officially born.
In February 1984, they held a news conference at the Royal York in Toronto, announcing their existence as a national group providing an alternative voice for women.
They never anticipated the reaction. "It really was astonishing," Landolt said. "It was just an explosion. We knew from that time on we were filling a need."
They were deluged with phone calls and mail from individuals and news media. Membership quickly grew to 10,000.
"The secular media were livid," she said. "How dare we go against the radical feminists? They thought if they ridiculed us, and made fun of us that we would disappear."
Landolt said she had experience with media attacks from working in the pro-life movement. The smears "strengthened our resolve."
Feminist groups would refuse to debate REAL Women on TV or radio; they tried to dismiss the group as irrelevant, she said.
REAL Women proved them wrong, she said, noting the group has appeared at more than 250 government committee hearings and commissions, such as the Royal Commission on Reproductive Technologies.
"We've been to over 35 UN conferences and meetings around the world . . . working to defend family and life."
"There have been very few important issues that we've not addressed," she said, noting all the work has been done on money from donations and memberships.
The group now has about 50,000 members. Except for a few small project grants, the group has survived without any government funding, addressing everything from safe injection drug sites and prostitution, to the dangers of the vaccine Gardasil.
Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court's Morgentaler decision prompted REAL Women to battle in the courts. Two weeks after the decision, Landolt went to Ottawa and requested the dockets. She spent a cold, rainy February day reading all the court documents on Morgentaler.
"There was not one single document that was pro-life," she said, describing that day as the loneliest and saddest of her life.
She vowed that from then on anything to do with "the culture of life or death or the family" would have a pro-life and pro-family view expressed in court.
"There has to be an historical record that not everyone went along with these very foolish decisions the courts were handing down." Nor did she want the courts "exonerating themselves," by saying no one argued the case against their decisions.
REAL Women has been active in myriad court cases, at all levels, since then, often in collaboration with other groups.
"Some day young men and women will pick up the work we've done and will challenge the status quo," she said. "We know that someday, somehow it will again be challenged."
REAL Women has also been on the forefront in criticizing human rights commissions that are drawing attention lately for suppressing religious freedom and freedom of speech. In 1989, REAL Women started raising questions when a one-woman tribunal declared women should be in combat duty contrary to all the evidence, Landolt said.
She said she knew then that human rights commissions and tribunals were simply politically correct tools to change society. Though nobody was even reporting on those issues, "we just plugged away."
Their extensive records are now kept in the National Archives. "REAL Women of Canada is a part of Canadian history, she said. "Our research has never been wasted."
REAL Women has also taken its work to the international arena. "We've been to over 35 UN conferences and meetings around the world . . . working to defend family and life," she said.
REAL Women celebrates its 25th anniversary with a conference in Ottawa Sept. 20 that will feature family expert Allan Carlson, author of 10 books and a contributing editor of Touchstone, A Journal of Mere Christianity. He will talk about the role of the natural family.
Other speakers will address topics such as the demographic winter, feminism's effect on Canadian society and children's rights. More information is available at www.realwomenca.com.
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