Although she is best remembered for her work with the
National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) and her expertise
in legal matters, Henrietta Edwards never strayed too far
from the early concern for social welfare that motivated her
to found the Working Girls' Club in Montreal.
During the First World War, Edwards became a Red Cross
leader. Late in the war, when allied resources were being
taxed the the limit, Edwards was invited by the War
Committee to advise it on how to enforce stricter
conservation measures. This was the first time in Canadian
history that the government had called upon a woman to
assist with a review of public policy.
Edwards advised them to establish a Department of Public
Health and a Department of Child Welfare. At the convention
it was agreed that women were capable of doing more of the
farm work that desperately needed to be done but was
languishing with so many men away fighting the war. Although
it was agreed that women could take on a larger role,
Edwards demanded that women who worked in the same jobs as
men receive the same pay. She also pointed out that though
special training might be needed to equip women to fill
roles in industry vacated by men, such expenditures were an
investment that would pay big dividends.
Edwards was made secretary of the National Subcommittee
on Thrift and Economy in Canadian Homes (a subject that she
knew a fair amount about) in light of the economic practice
she and her sister used to help make ends meet while
publishing their magazine Working Women of Canada.
As a result of her work on the subcommittee, Edwards was
called upon to address various groups on the duty of the
homemaker to reduce waste and practice economy—especially in
cooking. Like many who were aware of shortages, she felt it
was criminal to waste food when so many people were going
hungry as a result of the war.