Following and coinciding with the first woman in Canada appointed to the Senate in 1930, the developments for gender equality moved forward including the time of transition in the early 20th century, where women did not have the right to vote in provincial or federal elections. It becomes a big problem for wanting to be considered an equal in society or even having this on the horizon as a possibility. Something in the imagination of the young, for the dreamers.
In 1916, there began to be some changes in Canada for the furtherance of equality of the sexes. Women began to earn the right to vote in some provincial elections including Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. This became a provincial right to vote in British Columbia and Ontario following those points in history. Important to note, the basic rights for women as legal persons in a democratic, functioning society should have them as voting equals.
These rights do not produce equality in one go, in all domains of operation in the nation, or with equal force. As described in the prior article on the context of Canadian equality of the sexes, we find the late acceptance of women’s property rights in Francophone Canada compared to the rest of the nation. It takes time for social life, cultural living, legal institutions and documents, and economic systems to align themselves for the general aim of gender equality.
In fact, this is seen in the targeted objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals. In any reasonable examination of the situation, we can see the lack of equality of women in most or all societies and inequality in some or most domains of the society. This is the split between theory and practice. More women than men are subject to various forms of discrimination and inequality, which creates problems in terms of the access to the “levers of power” within societies.
Continuing on, we see the same year passing of the War-time Elections Act meant for military women who have male relatives that are fighting in World War I to have the right to vote. This is an extension of the right to own property for the married women. It is an extension of military women to be able to vote. Moving onward in 1918, we find the development for one specific ethnic group, Caucasians, and sex, women, getting the right to vote not only in the provincial elections as before but in the elections that matter the most: the federal ones.
If women are to have equality with the men in their lives, they are going to need some form of provisions not only with the vote but also eventually with work, education, and with the reproductive health rights (e.g., safe and equitable access to abortion based on the statements of Human Rights Watch). Two caveats to this; women were still denied the right to vote in some provincial elections. Same denial to the right to vote for minorities – many of them – across the board.
It does not amount to a democracy in this sense. The next steps following this included the notion of the right to vote in not only Anglophone Canada but also in Francophone Canada for the women in Quebec. Come 1940, women were finally permitted the right to vote in the provincial elections. It took more time than the other provinces. With the territories, the Northwest Territories was the final territory to grant the right to vote for women, which happened in 1951.
Slightly before the period of 1951, we see the provisions for the right to vote for some minority groups. Then came the big shocker to the generations of old, the right to vote all registered Canadians in 1960, which was extended to Aboriginal men and women. That is to say, there are Aboriginal men and women alive today born before, even potentially a decade or more before, the right to vote had been given by the Government of Canada.
In reflection on a similar consideration or more properly lack thereof of the Indigenous populations in Canada, we know the last Residential school was closed as recent as 1996. These are human being stripped of a culture and heritage and reduced to a fraction of prior population numbers considered last for placement within the democratic system of Canadian society.
Racism comes in the modern form with attitudes at times. However, the attitudes become treated as if as serious as the real, concrete racism seen of old and in many areas of the world without any mechanisms for recourse and justice. The hard racism – so to speak – spoken to in the prior fact comes in the form of a denial of equality in law, in the documents and bases for the functioning of a society.
The lack of the right to vote in a democratic system makes the person akin to a persona non grata, but more precisely a non-person or an unperson because their voice has no individual or collective state in the civic and political affairs of the nation. You can’t vote because of Aboriginal. Then the vote comes into play. Things then take time to run downstream because many people will not care to vote into a system that has stripped and then deprived, and outright forced on, them of so much.
So it has been more women in terms of the acknowledged differences between the sexes observed by prominent people and then this gets taken as justification for denial of women the same privileges and rights in the society. Women can’t drive, vote, work outside the home, and wear what they want, and must be sole childcare providers and homemakers for no pay, be public utilities in the bearing of children alone, be unable to get education, and kept in a state of abject misery and virtual concubine status compared to the men in the society. That has been a long history needing extirpation from, which continues apace.
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Image Credits: Pixabay