Co-founder of Women and Gender Studies at U of T celebrates 50 years of support, creates scholarship

When Margaret Atwood tweets about you, it’s kind of a big deal.

The iconic author and alumna of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science put out the call to support her longtime friend and fellow U of T graduate, Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, who recently created a scholarship to support students in the Women & Gender Studies Institute.

The Ceta Ramkhalawansingh Scholarship will be awarded to one upper-year undergraduate student enrolled in a major or specialist program in women and gender studies or in Caribbean studies.

Ramkhalawansingh completed her bachelor’s degree in arts at New College in 1972. She later earned two diplomas in child study in 1974 and 1976, respectively, from what is now the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study and a master’s degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in 1980. After completing her residency requirements for a PhD, Ramkhalawansingh accepted a position at Toronto City Hall.

“Many students need funding so they can focus on their studies,” she says. “I don't want students to be working and studying. I'd rather they were spending time on volunteer activities, being engaged in university governance or doing something for the community.”

When Ramkhalawansingh was an undergraduate student in 1968, physical education was compulsory for women (but not for men), Hart House was off-limits to women and the distribution of birth-control information was illegal.

That prompted Ramkhalawansingh to get involved in campus activities, leading to several changes to campus policy, as well as the creation of the first women’s studies course, with Ramkhalawansingh as one of its first lecturers.

“I’ve never really left U of T,” she says.

Read more, Sean McNeely