Today, was not always this way. In

Today, we live in a society that believes women can do anything men can do.   Women can vote, work, and were granted all the same rights and freedoms as men.   But, our society was not always this way.   In fact, there was a time when women were not even considered people.     Many events influenced this change, but there was a few main events that significantly impacted women’s rights.   Women’s suffrage, The Persons Case, and women’s fashion helped change our society and our views on women’s rights .  Since World War 1, women’s rights have drastically changed for the better, due to new laws and a revolutionized way of thinking. The women’s suffrage movement gave women the right to vote in federal elections.  In 1917, the military voters act was put into place.  The military voters act is a piece of Canadian legislation, giving the right to vote to all Canadian soldiers.  The Women’s suffrage movement also benefited from the Military Voters Act.   This act awarded the right to vote to women serving in the armed forces as well as nurses in the war, which later lead to the right to vote for all women.  Nellie McClung was a feminist of the early 1900’s and a part of the Famous Five.  She was one of the first women to bring attention about this issue to the public.  “Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live?”  “Do we not bear our part in citizenship?  Do we not help build the Empire? Give us our due!” (, says McClung.  In 1888, the first international women’s rights organization formed, it was called the International Council of Women.  This council struggled for the rights of women to vote and run for office and is part of the overall women’s rights movement.  “Men and women are like right and left hands; it doesn’t make sense not to use both.” (bustle).   On 28 January 1916, Manitoba women became the first in Canada to win both the right to vote and to hold provincial office. Manitoba was followed by Saskatchewan on 14 March and Alberta on 19 April 1916.  Finally, in 1960 aboriginal women gained the right to vote in federal elections, and all women in Canada officially had the right to vote.  The suffrage movement holds a particular relevance now as it has helped lead us as a country to where we are today. On April 24, 1928 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, in a unanimous decision, that women were not “persons” and therefore were not eligible to be appointed to the Senate.  Women did not have the same rights and freedoms as men, were not allowed to work, vote or get paid, and were not treated the same as anybody else.  One woman, Mary Ellen Smith from British Columbia, reacted to the news of women not being considered people saying, “The iron dropped into the souls of women in Canada when we heard that it took a man to decree that his mother was not a person.” (“famou5”)  . Although, in time, everything changed.  A very important constitutional ruling established the right of women.  This was called The Persons Case.  The Persons Case played a very important role in women’s rights and how we got to where we are today.   In 1893 the National Council of Women of Canada is founded. It works for social rights of women and children.  The famous five was a group of five women who became famous for their efforts to fight for women’s rights.  Emily Murphy, a member of the Famous Five 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.” (“Fashion and Women’s Liberation”) .   Both of these groups played a significant role in the success of declaring women people.  In 1957, equal pay legislation was passed in Alberta.  This means that women were able to work and were granted the say pay as a men who did the same job.  Although it does not seem like a big deal now, at the time this was one of the biggest moves forward in fighting for women’s rights.   In 1987 systemic discrimination in the hiring of women was found to be unlawful, and more women than ever before were working.  The rise of ever changing styles in fashion have allowed new discussions to be opened on women’s rights.  In the early 1900s, it was not acceptable for women to show skin in their outfits and you never saw anyone wearing short dresses.  The 1920s was the decade in which fashion entered the modern era.  Women abandoned the more restricting fashions of past years and began to wear more comfortable clothes (such as short skirts or trousers).  When women started to rebel, they were trying to point out that they are women and can do as they please.  This was an important era for women, because they discovered a way to make their own decisions and express themselves through fashion, where they couldn’t otherwise.  “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.”  (harpersbazaar), says Bill Cunningham.  This quote shows exactly how women felt at this time.  They were being told they were not “persons”, they did not have many rights and freedoms that men had.  So, they used fashion as a way to express themselves and get their opinions noticed.  The only way for them to get noticed was through actions that were considered extremely provocative at that time, like riding a bicycle, wearing pants, and organizing protests (vogue). Women pushed for their rights and freedoms through their fashion choices, which helped our society get to where it is today.  In conclusion,  women’s rights have drastically changed for the better, due to new laws and a revolutionized way of thinking.  Women knew what was happening was not right, and decided to rebel through fashion, which lead to people realizing that women deserve the same rights and freedoms as men have.  New laws such women’s suffrage and the persons case were put into place and have made significant changes that changed society’s views on women.  Nowadays, everybody is equal and the world is a much better place because of it.


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