In the past women have always been treated differently
and have been seen weaker than men but now things have changed. Women faced
many challenges such as not being recognized as “persons”, and having different
rights as men. Women worked hard to change these differences and to earn a
greater status in society. The Persons Case, women’s rights movements, and
women’s fight for equal wages are all examples of improvements in women’s
rights throughout Canadian history.
Firstly, the Persons Case is an example of
improvements in women’s rights throughout Canadian history. The Persons Case
was when Emily Murphy, who was a judge, was challenged by a lawyer because she
was a woman and not a “person” (1). The Famous Five was a group of petitioners,
which consisted of Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Henrietta
Muir Edwards, and Irene Parlby (2). The Famous Five wanted the Supreme Court to
allow women to be senators but they were only given the right to be judges as
they were not “persons” according to section 24 of the British North America
Act (2). Emily Murphy, who was a judge, said “We
want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be
called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are “persons” (3). The Famous Five challenged the BNA Act in the Supreme
Court, but they denied changing the law (2). Due to this the Famous Five went
to fight in the Privy Council of England, which was the finals appeal court in
1928 (2). On October 18th 1929, the council declared that women are also
“persons” (2). This is significant to Canadian history as women were allowed to
hold political office (4). They were also allowed to become senators. With this
privilege, women could work for greater rights and opportunities (4). In
conclusion, the Persons Case showed improvements in women’s rights, but they
continued to work for greater rights by taking social stands.
Secondly, women’s rights movements are another example
of improvements in women’s rights throughout Canadian history. In the 20th
century, women began to create rights movements which consisted of campaigns to
support equality in education and employment (5). They also campaigned for an end
to violence against women (5). Aside from campaigning women also held public
meetings, wrote letters to politicians, and published articles which all helped
in raising awareness on equal rights (6). As a result of all the campaigns
women organized they received a lot of support. PM Lester B. Pearson created
the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1967 (7). The commissions’
purpose was to identify the current status of women, allowing the government to
create equality for women in society (7). Emily Murphy, who was a judge, said “No woman can become or remain degraded
without all women suffering” (8). The Royal Commission on the Status of
Women worked to allow women to have rights such as education (7). Women were
also allowed to have part-time jobs (7). The commission also worked with
Aboriginal women and the Indian Act so they could be treated equally as other
woman (7). In conclusion, although these
movements showed improvements in women’s rights, women were still not treated
like men, in terms of wages.
Moreover, women’s fight for higher wages is the last
example of improvements in women’s rights throughout Canadian history. Although
women’s presence in the workforce increased during the 20th century, their
wages were lower than men’s wages even if they were doing the same work. Women
took a stand and fought for wages to be based on skills and responsibilities,
not based on gender (9). By the 1980s the average wage rate for women who
worked full-time was 64% of the average of what men earned (10). In 1993 there
was a sudden increase in women’s wages which left men’s wages to decrease, leaving
a wage gap of about 72% (11). This was because more educated women were
entering the workforce (11). Statistics show that women who were
university-educated earned 18% less than men in 2001 whereas in 1991 women earned
20% less than men (10). However, this did change because in 2015 a woman who
was also university-educated earned 90 cents for every dollar a man earned (12).
This wage gap has decreased since 2014 because statistics show that in that
year a woman in between 25 and 54 earned $52,500 whereas men in the same age
group earned an average of $70,700 (12). This means that women earned 74 cents
for every dollar a man earned (12). Sarah Kaplan, who is a professor, said “even
though Canadian culture has an emphasis on all aspects of diversity, Canada has
been quite slow to deal with issues like gender pay gap” (13).
In conclusion, women’s
fight for equal wages has showed improvements in women’s rights.
To end off with, the Persons Case, Women’s rights
movements, and women’s fight for equal wages are all examples of improvements
in Canadian history. Firstly, the Famous Five stood up for women by challenging
the BNA Act, which allowed women to be “persons” and hold political office.
Secondly, women took a stand for their rights and created campaigns to raise
awareness of equal rights and to be treated the same as men. Lastly, women
fought for their wages to be based on how hard they worked rather than being
based on gender
1. Quinlan, Doug. The Canadian Challenge. Pg. 65
2. Quinlan, Doug. The Canadian Challenge. Pg. 66
3. The person’s case and women’s right to vote in Canada.
4. Persons Case. The Canadian Encyclopedia
5. Women’s Movements in Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia
6. Women’s rights during WWI Canada. OHRC
7. Royal Commission on the Status of women
8. Quotes from famous Canadian women. Heroines
9. Quinlan, Doug. The Canadian Challenge. Pg. 255
10. Quinlan, Doug. The Canadian Challenge. Pg. 239
11. Women in the Labor Force. The Canadian Encyclopedia
12. Women’s Wages. Statcan.gc.ca
13. Canada’s gender pay gap. Huffingtonpost.
1. Quinlan, Doug et al. The Canadian Challenge. Oxford University Press.
Don Mills, Ontario. 2008
2. Marshall, Tabitha and David A. Cruickshank. “Persons Case”.
The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Canada, 2006. Web. 8 Feb 2006.
3. Strong-Boag, Veronica. “Women’S Movements In Canada”. The
Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Canada, 2006. Web. 8 Feb 2006.
4. Connelly, M.P.. “Women In The Labour Force”. The Canadian
Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica
Canada, 2006. Web. 8 Feb 2006.
5. Canada, Government of Canada Statistics. “Alternative format
– PDF document.” Government
of Canada, Statistics Canada, 23 Jan. 2018, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/access_acces/alternative_alternatif.action?l=eng=/pub/89-503-x/2015001/article/14694-eng.pdf
6. Morris, Cerise. “Royal Commission On The Status Of Women In
Canada”. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Canada, 2006. Web.
8 Feb 2006.
7. “Women’s rights during WW1 in Canada.” Ontario Human Rights Commission, www.ohrc.on.ca/en/women%E2%80%99s-rights-during-ww1-canada.
8. “Quotes from Famous Canadian Women – heroines.Ca, Women in
Canadian History.” Heroines.ca, www.heroines.ca/features/quotes.html.
Persons Case and Womens Right to Vote in Canada, www.yorku.ca/lfoster/2006-07/sosi4440a/lectures/ThePersonsCaseandWomensRighttoVoteinCanada.htm
10. Patel, Arti. “Canada’s Gender Pay Gap: Why Canadian Women
Still Earn Less Than Men.” HuffPost Canada, HuffPost Canada, 8 Mar. 2016,