By the Numbers: Political milestones and achievements for women in Canada

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Ottawa – March 2, 2013

 

1916

  • Women in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta win the right to vote in provincial elections in those provinces.
  • Emily Murphy becomes Canada’s first female judge.

 

1917      

  • Women in B.C. and Ontario win the right to vote in provincial elections in those provinces.

 

1918

  • Women in Nova Scotia are granted the right to vote in provincial elections in Nova Scotia.
  • The Government of Canada grants women the right to vote in federal elections.

 

1919    

  • Women in New Brunswick win the right to vote in that province's elections.

 

1920      

  • The federal government makes the voting franchise "universal". However, some immigrant and racialized groups and Aboriginal persons are not included.

 

1921   

  • Agnes Campbell McPhail is the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons, a position she held until 1940.

 

1922

  • Women in Prince Edward Island win the right to vote in provincial elections in that province.
  • Alberta grants married women in that province the same legal capacity as men.

 

1928

  • In the "Persons" case, the Supreme Court declares that a woman is not a "qualified person" and therefore cannot be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

 

1929    

  • Women are now considered Persons under Canada's Constitution. In the "Person's" case, the British Privy Council overturns the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada and allows women to be appointed to the Senate.

 

1930

  • Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson becomes the first woman to be appointed to the Senate.

 

1935      

  • Martha Black becomes the first woman MP from the North (Yukon).

 

1940

  • Quebec grants women in that province the right to vote in Quebec provincial elections.

 

1951      

  • Ontario passes two laws (Fair Employment Practices Act and Female Employees' Fair Remuneration Act) that prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sex and requires employers to pay women the same as men for similar work.

 

1952

  • Saskatchewan passes equal pay legislation.

 

1953

  • Canada, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia enact Fair Employment laws.
  • B.C. passes equal pay legislation.

 

1956

  • Canada, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba enact equal pay legislation.
  • New Brunswick, BC, and Saskatchewan enact fair employment laws.

 

1957

  • Alberta passes equal pay legislation.
  • Ellen Louks Fairclough becomes the first woman to be appointed to federal Cabinet.

 

1960

  • First Nations' women in Canada get the right to vote in federal elections.

 

1962

  • Ontario enacts the first human rights law. It replaces previous anti-discrimination laws and provides a legal mechanism for victims of discrimination to pursue discrimination.

 

1962    

  • Nova Scotia enacts its Human Rights Act.


1964

  • Quebec amends its laws to give married women full legal rights.
  • Quebec passes fair employment legislation.

 

1966

  • The Alberta Human Rights Act is passed.

 

1967

  • The Government of Canada establishes the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
  • New Brunswick enacts its human rights legislation.
  • G. Jean Gordon becomes the first woman to be elected to the Yukon Territorial Council.

 

1968

  • The PEI Human Rights Act is enacted.

 

1969

  • B.C. and Newfoundland adopt human rights laws in their provinces.

 

1970

  • Lena Pederson becomes the first woman to be elected to the Northwest Territories Council.

 

1971

  • All women obtain the right to serve as Jurors.

 

1975

  • Quebec passes its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

 

1977

  • The Canadian Human Rights Act is enacted.

 

1979

  • Lone Christensen becomes the first woman to hold the position of Territorial Commissioner (Yukon).
  • Lise Payette becomes the first Minister of State for the Status of Women.

 

1980

  • Alexa McDonough becomes the first woman to lead a major, recognized political party in Canada when she is elected the Leader of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party.

 

1981

  • Canada ratifies (signs on to) the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

 

1982

  • Canada enacts the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter recognizes the human rights and fundamental freedoms in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to equal treatment under the law for men and women. It does not include the rights in the Covenant on Economic and Social Rights.

1983

  • Criminal of Canada is amended to change the offence of rape to "sexual assault" in order to parallel physical assault; to emphasize the violent nature of the crime; and to make it a crime for a man to sexually assault his wife

1984

  • Jeanne Sauvé becomes the first woman to be appointed Governor General of Canada.

 

1985

  • Canada amends the Indian Act to remove the section that strips Aboriginal women of their status upon marrying a non-Aboriginal man.

 

1986      

  • Canada passes the Employment Equity Act

 

1987    

  • A milestone human rights decision recognizes that systemic discrimination contributed to excluding women from the workplace (Canadian National Railway v. Canada, (C.H.R.C), 1987,1 S.C.R. 1114).

 

1988

  • Ethel Blondin Andrew becomes the first Aboriginal woman to be elected Member of Parliament.

 

1989

  • Audrey McLaughlin, Member of Parliament for the Yukon, becomes the first woman to head a federal political party (NDP)

 

1990      

  • Kim Campbell becomes Canada's first woman to serve as federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

 

1991

  • Rita Johnston becomes the first woman premier (April 1991)
  • Nellie Cournoyea becomes the first Aboriginal woman premier (November 1991)

 

1992

  • Jocelyne Gros-Louis becomes the first woman elected as Grand Chief of a First Nation (Huron-Wendat Nation, Quebec)

 

1993

  • Kim Campbell becomes Canada's first woman to serve as federal Minister of National Defense and Prime Minister

 

1995

  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier becomes the first female to be elected President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) Canada.

 

2005      

  • Sandra Lovelace Nicholas becomes the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed to the Senate.

 

2007

  • Leona Aglukkaq becomes the first Inuit woman to hold a senior cabinet post (Minister of Health)

 

Source: the Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission