Greta: The women's movement is not really making a place for young women. Older feminists don't have patience with young women because they don't want to have to go over the issues which they have already resolved, but which younger women still need to explore for themselves.
I taught a course on Contemporary Women's Issues last year, and it happened to be a year when a lot of women's conferences were being held in Montreal. I arranged for many of my students to attend the conferences at reduced fees, in exchange for helping out. They were very often treated in inferior fashion and were frustrated by that part of the experience.
Susan: What should women's organizations do to include young women and to advance their interests?
Greta: In part, it is difficult to attract young women because they don't want to be there with their mothers, but a number of things could be done. Special conferences need to be organized for them, as they were during International Youth Year. At women's conferences, workshops and activities could be offered for them, but their fees would have to be subsidized.
Many organizations could be offering scholarships for young women - men's organizations do this all the time. Those of us with more experience need to make ourselves available as resource people and to assist younger women to organize around their own issues. We need to support their activities in any way we can. As a matter of course, women's organizations could be sending their information out to local schools, so students know what is available and happening in the women's community.
Speaking and writing contests, apprenticeships and other activities of this sort would help. But basically, women's organizations need to begin treating young women as a priority.
Susan: What in particular, can an organization like C.C.L.O.W. do to incorporate young women and represent their interests?
Greta: C.C.L.O.W. would need to redefine its focus to some extent. It is in a difficult position, as a national organization concerned with education, because so much education falls within provincial jurisdiction. There is a whole spectrum of education out there, to which C.C.L.O.W. has not yet addressed itself, that of children and adolescents.
However, more emphasis could be placed on the development of teaching materials. C.C.L.O.W. could act as a clearing house for ideas, materials and methodologies for appropriate education for young women. Collecting and distributing materials to front-line feminist educators and teachers would provide a valuable service. Scholarships could be set up for young women, as well. C.C.L.O.W. networks could sponsor special events for young women in their geographic area. There is a great deal which needs to be done.