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The Suffragist Movement in Canada

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Idil Samatar

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of The Suffragist Movement in Canada

The Suffragist Movement in Canada Historical Background The suffragist movement began in 1878, which was lead by Dr.Emily Howard Stowe. She wanted women to have the same opportunities as men.

She was the first president of the Toronto Women's Suffrage Association. Later becoming, The Canadian Women's Suffrage Association. Her daughter Dr. Augusta Stowe Gullen followed in her footsteps.

Sir John A MacDonald began the fight by introducing a bill to parliament trying to grant municipal franchise to unmarried women, but was denied early on. Unmarried women were only given this opportunity because married women were expected to focus on their duties as wife and mother. The suffrage movement is considered a social movement.

Particularly because women within the society wanted voting rights, so they began to advocate. The Canadian Women's Suffrage Association made peaceful protests, strikes and rarely retorted to violence. They held public meetings, wrote letters to politicians, and published various texts and articles.

Demonstrations were also used, especially by Nellie McClung, she joined the Political Equality League which specifically focused on pushing for women's suffrage in Manitoba. In 1914, they put on a play called "The Women's Parliament," it turned the tables and poked fun at the dangers of giving men the right to vote. Her argument gained a lot of public attention and exposure, which helped convince the Liberal party to side with their movement. These expectations of women have been changing after this particular movement, allowing different opportunities for women. Especially, during the war effort women worked in various places designated for only men. But, on average they made only half as much as a man would. The vote was viewed as the end to low pay, social and economic inequality.

Following a successful campaign for women suffrage. Women than began to advocate for an opportunity to be apart of politics and male dominated roles in society. Attitudes have changed permanently; where women were also taken more seriously and seen as more capable.

Several years later a seat in the senate, and parliament was gained by Agnes Macphail. She ran for the Progressives party as well as was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. The social change occurred exogenously as well as endogenously. At the same time when Canadian women were fighting for their right to vote, countries all over the world were fighting as well including: the United States (starting in the 1820s), Denmark, and Germany.

The suffragist in the Canadian Suffrage Association wanted to make their own political decisions. They wanted to break the stereotypes and change how women are viewed in society. They believed that women are equal to their male counterparts and should be treated as such.

One of many of their voting beliefs was that women should have the right to vote because they paid taxes just like men. This argument of "no taxation without representation was presented". They thought they could bring new ideas to the existing politics.

Although, some suffragists argued that they were not arguing for sex equality; most agreed that women belonged in the home, but believing that voting was compatible with women’s place in the home and family. Women advocating for their right to vote were on the left wing, the Liberal party. These activists had the idea that liberals will campaign for their best interests, based on their ideology. The basis of the liberal ideology is individual freedom for present and future generations, civil liberties, equal pay, better working conditions as well as human dignity.

The argument made by the Conservatives was a singularity point of view which favored tradition. They believed women were inferior to themselves and suggested that women were emotional and incapable of making a sound political decision. The argument that "nice women don't want to vote" came up time and time again.

Also, Liberals sided with women suffragists because of the thought that this movement would lead to the election of their government in the future since feminist values and attitudes were often associated with Liberal ideas.
Many women's organizations were drawn into the movement, in the early 1900's. Many people turned out to hear Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and Mrs. Philip Snowden of England protest. In 1903, Emmeline formed a group called “The Women Social and Political Union".

Later in 1884, municipal franchise was finally granted to widows in Ontario. Shortly after the same right was given to multiple provinces.

Nova Scotia included any married woman owning property. In British Columbia and Manitoba all women rate-payers were given the same right.

Saskatchewan than began its efforts to extend the municipal franchise to married women at the same time as Alberta. Their first petition was refused and the second bill passed.

Efforts for female suffrage was made in British Columbia, but they were defeated. In 1908 women householders were not given municipal franchise. The question was than put to a referendum of the electors in 1916 and the right to vote was given in 1917. Since women have gained the right to vote, a lot has drastically changed but there are still some issues surrounding women's rights. One issue being pay equity.

Pay equity is equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. Its in place to stop gender discrimination. Studies state that women's jobs with the same value as their male counterpart are underpaid.

Ontario passed the pay equity legislation over 25 years ago but, women are currently still payed less than men working the exact same job. Currently making 85 cents for every dollar a man makes. In conclusion, through much adversary and protest the objective of suffragists to gain the right to vote has been achieved.

Many would argue that this vote lead to gaining the same political, social, and economical rights as men.

Although, women have gained many rights, there are still issues regarding these very rights, are continuously violated. Woman suffrage was than made a provincial issue.

Bills for the provincial enfranchisement of women were introduced into the legislatures of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Quebec, but were all defeated.

Several years later provincial franchise was granted in Ontario and several provinces.

Just 17 years later, the Military Voters Act of 1917 passed which allowed nurses to vote. Several years later the Wartime Election Act was passed. This gave the franchise to the wives, widows, mothers, and sisters of soldiers serving overseas in all provinces , but still excluded many women.

In 1919, Canadian women aged 21 years old and over were given the right to vote. This was seen as the greatest victory. By: Idil Samatar During this time of history it was viewed as a positive change, for not only women but for society as well. It helped people in this society begin to accept gender equality. This movement was considered a stepping stone, women felt that once they obtained the right to vote, it was easier to gain other rights. Women suffrage was a long campaign that lasted for more than sixty years. Thousands of women and hundreds of organizations had been involved in the fight for political rights. The Suffragist movement was the movement that allowed women to gain the right to vote.

These activists were ultimately concerned with making the political, social, and economic status of women equal to men.

Both internal and external factors helped shape the direction of woman suffrage.

The laws of the country reflected the belief that women are weak and need protection. Socio-cultural Influences... Women were seen as the weaker sex but the more virtuous one, were women are believed to need more protection. Canadian society recognizes the role of women as important, especially when it comes to education and family, but coming second to the role of men.

During this time women were expected to stay at home to look after the children while the husband worked.

Women were given a passive role in the family, where her husband was head of the household.

Women’s role, was as wife and mother, expected to take care of the domestic roles as well as children, they were to be cherished and nurtured solely by their mother. Controllability of Social Change... Exogenous & Endogenous Change Pay Equity... social Movement... Political Movement... Intro...
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