The Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women and the Legal Profession

About

The Greenberg Chair is designed to strengthen teaching, research and administration with respect to feminist perspectives on the law. It is also designed to maintain and foster links between women in the legal academy and women in the legal profession. 

Founding of the Chair

In 2005, Shirley E. Greenberg, retired lawyer and class of 1976 alumnus, made an outstanding donation in support of  activities related to women and the legal profession, permanently endowing the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession in the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law. Beginning with her annual support in 2002, legal issues that are important to women have received wonderful support from Ms. Greenberg. Thanks to this generous gift, the Greenberg Chair is now permanently established at the law school.

Role of the Chair

The Shirley E. Greenberg Chair is held by professors in the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.  It is designed to circulate among qualified feminist faculty members. The holder of the Chair works with a large existing group of feminist scholars, all committed to women’s equality through law, to encourage women to enter the profession, to train legal professionals to deliver services to women, to connect women in law school with women in the legal profession, and to further law reform and research impacting on women as clients and women in the profession.

    Highlights

    In October 2020, Natasha Bakht published In Your Face: Law, Justice, and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada. This book explores the experiences of a group of women in Canada who are small in numbers yet have garnered much legal, political, and social attention in recent years. Muslim women who cover their faces with a veil arouse visceral reactions in people who, despite exposure to diverse ways of living through multicultural urban environments, seem to have fixed notions of how women ought to live the good life. This book analyzes niqab bans in Canada while also drawing on interviews with niqab-wearing women to reveal their complex identities and multiple motivations for dressing in this way. In Your Face was listed on The Hill Times’ 100 Best Books in 2020 and won the 2020-21 Huguenot Society of Canada Award. 

    Click here to learn more about In Your Face: Law, Justice, and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada.

    Past Greenberg Events

    The recordings are posted in their original language of broadcast.

    Chairholder

    Natasha Bakht

    Natasha Bakht is a Full Professor of law at the University of Ottawa and the Shirley Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession (2020-2024). Her research explores the intersection between religious freedom and women’s equality. She served as the English language Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law from 2014 to 2020. Her legal activism includes involvement with the National Association of Women and the Law and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She was named one of the top 50 people in city by Ottawa Life Magazine (2009), received a Femmy Award by International Women’s Day Ottawa for being a thought leader in the National Capital Region (2017) and received the South Asian Bar Association’s Legal Excellence Award (2019). 

    Professor Bakht’s research on the niqab analyzes the unwarranted popular panic concerning Muslim women who cover their faces, and explores systemic barriers to inclusion perpetuated by Canada’s legal and political system. She has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v NS, 2012 SCC 72, which involved a niqab-wearing sexual assault complainant. Together with her friend and colleague Lynda Collins, she stretched the legal boundaries of family by becoming legal co-mothers of their son, Elaan, though they are not in a conjugal relationship. She is also an award-winning dancer and choreographer.  

    Former Chairholders

    Recent Publications of the Chairholder

    • Natasha Bakht, In Your Face: Law, Justice and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2020).
    • Mary Jane Mossman, Natasha Bakht, Vanessa Gruben, Karen Pearlson, eds, Families and the Law, 3rd ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc, 2019).
    • Natasha Bakht & Lynda Collins, “Are you my mother? Parentage in a Non-Conjugal Family” (2018) 31:1 Can J Fam L 105.
    • Natasha Bakht & Lynda Collins, “The Earth is Our Mother: Freedom of Religion and the Preservation of Aboriginal Sacred Sites in Canada” (2017) 62:3 McGill Law Journal 777.
    • Natasha Bakht, “In Your Face: Piercing the Veil of Ignorance About Niqab-Wearing Women” (2015) 24(3) Social and Legal Studies 419.  
    • Natasha Bakht & Jordan Palmer, “Modern Law, Modern Hammers: Canada’s Witchcraft Provision as an Image of Persecution” (2015) 35 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 123.
    • Jennie Abell, Elizabeth Sheehy, Natasha Bakht, eds, Criminal Law and Procedure: Proof, Defences and Beyond, 5th ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc., 2014).
    • Jennie Abell, Elizabeth Sheehy, Natasha Bakht, eds, Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases, Context, Critique Proof, 5th ed (Concord: Captus Press Inc., 2012).
    • Natasha Bakht, “What’s in a Face?  Demeanour Evidence in the Sexual Assault Context” in Elizabeth Sheehy ed, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2012) 591-611.
    • Natasha Bakht, “Veiled Objections:  Facing Public Opposition to the Niqab” in Lori Beaman ed, Reasonable Accommodation: Managing Religious Diversity (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012) 70-108.
    • Natasha Bakht, “Mere ‘Song and Dance’: Complicating the Multicultural Imperative in the Arts” in Home and Native Land: Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada, eds, May Chazan et al (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2011) 175-183.
    • Natasha Bakht, ed, Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada (Toronto: TSAR Publications, 2009).

    Visit Professor Bakht’s SSRN page: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=998346  

    Donor

    "The advances [in the battle for women’s rights and equality] are great compared with what it was like when I was a young woman. Women are much better able to move into whatever field and endeavour they choose, without the barriers that we experienced then. In some ways, it is still a man’s world. I would like to see more women in the House of Commons; I would like to see more women running for office and as leaders of parties. But we are getting there." - Shirley Greenberg

    Shirley Greenberg has been a trailblazer in the Canadian women's movement for most of her adult life. She helped found the Ottawa Women's Centre, from which subsequently developed the Rape Crisis Centre, the Women's Career Counseling Centre and Interval House, a refuge for battered women. She entered the University of Ottawa's law school in the 1970s; while still busy raising three children.

    After obtaining her law degree, Ms. Greenberg went on to create the first all-female law practice in Ottawa. Many of the most successful women lawyers in Ontario today began their careers in the law office of Shirley Greenberg.

    Throughout her career, she fought systemic discrimination against women in laws and legal documents. Greenberg has since retired from the practice of the law, but her commitment to improving the lives of women continues.

    With the help of her generous donation, the Shirley E. Greenberg Centre for Women's Health was established at the Riverside campus of the Ottawa Hospital. This centre, specializing in gynecology and cancer detection, puts particular emphasis on the well-being of older women.

    Financial Support

    Students and faculty in need of financial support for their projects that advance women’s equality and anti-oppression should contact the Chair directly at nbakht@uottawa.ca

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