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Women’s rights in Canada; How Canadian women fought for their rights

Nowadays women’s rights in Canada is well accepted and respected. Canada is probably one of the last countries in the world when you think about the lack of Women’s rights . Today, Canada is one of the world’s freest and the most justice-driven countries. As stated in the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, people of every race, nationality, sex, color, age, or mental disability are protected under federal law without discrimination.

But Canada wasn’t always a perfect country concerning social issues such as gender equality and women’s rights, there are dark moments in Canada’s history when women had to fight for equal rights, and we are going to cover them, so stay with us.

The progress of Equal Rights

Many of today’s Women’s rights in Canada are the works and campaigns made in the last 100 years. Up until the late 1900s, Canadian women lacked some of the most basic rights that effectively made them be treated as less than a man. Lack of property rights and inability to Vote are examples of the lack of equality in Canadian society. Now, we look at some of the rights acquired by women in the span of 100 years.

Married women’s property rights

As we stated earlier, until the early 1900s, women lacked some of the most basic women’s rights in Canada; after marriage, women had no legal control over their wages and couldn’t own properties. One of the earliest rights given to women was the married women’s property right. Enacted in 1884 in Ontario and 1900 in Manitoba, it gave women the same legal rights as men in these provinces and enabled them to own properties and enter legal agreements. Other provinces followed suit, and Quebec was the last province that signed this act in 1964.

Asking to be defined as a “person.” 

Through the British North American act of 1867, which acted as the constitution, the word “persons” was used to refer to more than one person and “he” when referring to only one. 5 women from Alberta, known as the Famous Five, with the goal of entering the Senate, asked the government if the word, “persons” in the act, did include women. At first, the Supreme Court stated that the “Persons” did not include women. However, after an appeal to the Privy Council was launched, the five lords of the committee all agreed that the word “Persons” included both males and females.

The earlier interpretation of the word was called “a relic of days more barbarous than ours” by the council. After this new interpretation, the women were considered “persons” under the law, and after only one year, Cairine Reay Wilson became the first woman that enters the Canadian Senate, which makes it a crucial point the history of women’s right in Canada.

The Right to Vote

Until the beginning of the 20th century, women’s rights in Canada lacked a key components: They weren’t allowed to vote in both provincial and federal elections.

But in 1916, women won the right to vote in provincial elections in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Ontario and British Columbia followed suit a year later.

Political Cartoon advocating voting rights for women, Quebec, showcasing women's rights in Canada
Political Cartoon advocating voting rights for women, Quebec

During the same year, the Canadian Government Passed the War-time Elections Act, which gave women in the military and with relatives who were fighting in the World War the right to vote. By the year 1918, all Caucasian women were able to Vote in Federal elections, but still, there were many provinces that didn’t allow women to vote in provincial elections in this country.

The last province that gave women the right to vote in provincial elections was Quebec, and by 1960, all women of different races and ethnicities won the Right to Vote in Canada.

Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst, women’s rights activists

Fair employment and Equal pay

One of the other significant steps regarding women’s rights in Canada was the enacting of the Female Employees Fair Remuneration Act and the Fair Employment Practices Act, which both happened in Ontario in 1951

Both of these acts aimed to remove discrimination in the workplace and make sure women get equal pay as men for an equal amount of work. After the passing of these 2 acts in Ontario, all of the other provinces of Canada enacted these laws, and that ultimately led to the passing of these three acts by the federal government of Canada:

  • the Canada Fair Employment Practices Act, 1953
  • the Female Employees Equal Pay Act of 1956 made wage discrimination based on sex illegal
  • The Employment Equity Act of 1986 applies to federally regulated employees and requires employers to eliminate unnecessary barriers that limit employment opportunities.

Do women in Canada have equaled all their rights just yet?

Canadian women have achieved much in gaining their rights during the last century. Modern Canada is one of the most equally driven countries in the world, there are many acts in the Canadian constitution stating equal rights between men and women, but that doesn’t always guarantee equal rights in practice.

According to some social scientists, some issues are believed to be present in Canadian society; here we take a brief look at them:

  • Gender Wage Gap: Despite the 1987 Pay Equity Act, the gender wage gap is still an undergoing issue in Canada; it is said that women earn only 84 cents of every dollar earned by men in this country.
  • Security Gap: According to the statistics, women are much more likely than men to suffer domestic violence, sexual harassment and assaults, and sex trafficking.
  • Leadership gap: despite making over a little over half the population in Canada, women only make up 19.5 percent of board members of the top 500 Canadian companies.

Notable Events in the History of Women’s Rights in Canada

Here we gathered some notable events regarding women’s rights in Canada up until the 21st century.

Notable Events in the history of women’s rights in Canada
Notable Events in the history of women’s rights in Canada

Our last words regarding Women’s rights in Canada

Like many other countries around the world, Canada also has its dark moments in its history. and still are issues regarding equal rights in its today’s society; however, we should also take note that Canada was among the first countries that changed its views on women’s rights and today despite minor issues, it is one of the most justice based and free driven countries in the world and both men and women can enjoy top qualities of life.

Here we reach the end of our article; we hope you enjoyed reading it please send us your feedback and tell us if you would like to know more about other aspects of Canada. You can also read more about Canada’s politicshistoryeconomy, and geographical facts.

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