Family Law Education for Women (FLEW) evolved from advocacy efforts of the No Religious Arbitration Coalition (the “Coalition”). The Coalition was a coalition of more than 100 women’s and community agencies that came together to advocate against the use of religious arbitration in family law in Ontario. The Coalition’s position was that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed all women in Ontario the right to access public family law to resolve their family law disputes.
The government heard the voices of the Coalition, along with the many other groups and individuals across the country who spoke out on this important issue, and amended the law to require that arbitration awards follow Canadian or Ontario family law. Several other new and important provisions, related to family law arbitrations, were also introduced at this time.
The Coalition’s work highlighted the need for widespread public family law education and outreach to women — in particular, isolated and vulnerable women — across the province.
Shortly after announcing the new legislation, the Government of Ontario decided to fund a project targeted to reach these women and invited a number of agencies involved with the Coalition to manage the project. Eventually, seven of these agencies came together to form FLEW:
- Action ontarienne contre la violence faites aux femmes (AOCVF)
- Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)
- Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)
- National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
- Springtide Resource
- YWCA Toronto