YWCA International Boutique

In June 2018, we sadly bid farewell to the YWCA Toronto International Boutique. For over 40 years, the Boutique has worked to provide fair trade and local artisan goods, with all proceeds going to support YWCA World projects around the globe. We wanted to share with you just a few moments of that admirable history.

It started with small events run by women aimed at raising funds to support the YWCA’s “World Service Objectives,” such as an art sale at the North York YWCA in 1964, and an annual card game and bazaar at the Willowdale YWCA in the 1960’s.

These small events grew into more formal sales, selling greeting cards and gift items in a YWCA Toronto program centre. This was the beginning of the YWCA Toronto International Boutique.

In the early 1990’s, the Boutique outgrew its space, and moved into its first storefront.

Throughout the late 1980's and early 1990's, the Boutique and YWCA Toronto together co-hosted panel discussions, public speakers, and exhibitions on world issues including the environment, prejudice and discrimination, women's equity issues, and the importance of fair trade goods. The Boutique has also sup­ported other charitable organizations throughout the years, including UNICEF, Ten Thousand Villages, and Amnesty International, among others.

Proceeds from the Boutique have always gone to support YWCA World international development projects.

Projects that have been funded by the International Boutique in recent years include:

Children playing on computers together


A computer training program for children with disabilities and the community in Barbados (1999). 

Group of women sitting and standing in a room

Papua New Guinea

A training centre for health education and child care in Papua New Guinea (2000). 

Children and man playing music together


A music education program in Sao Paulo, Brazil for at risk youth (2005). 

Purchase of a poultry farm at the YWCA Bangladesh that would employ local women, teach farming skills, provide nutritional benefits to the village, and provide a source of income (2007).

Help was also given to build a Women’s Shelter in Honduras (2010).

three people sitting and standing on steps


Generators and sewing machines were purchased in support of a YWCA hostel in Zimbabwe (2010).         

People standing together outside of a building

Sri Lanka

Support to rebuild homes destroyed by the tsunami and contribute to the expansion of a school in Kandia, Sri Lanka (2012). 

UN Commission sitting at tables together

UN Commission

Sponsoring representatives from YWCA Kenya to attend the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York (2015-2018). 

And in 2016, we helped build a Women’s Empowerment Centre for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Eastern Amman, Jordan.

We are dedicated to continuing the important work of the International Boutique and its generations of dedicated volunteers, notably Anne Wood and Marcia McKay.

The funds raised by the lnternational Boutique will continue to sponsor and support women-led community programs in developing countries. The International Boutique will be missed, but the spirit of its purpose will live on.

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