Canadian women win the right to vote...
The month of October is celebrated as Women's History Month!
Less then a hundred years ago, women were finally given the right to vote in a Dominion election. This was put into effect on January 1, 1919. Canada had held its first federal election where women were allowed to vote and run for Parliament in 1921. After this monumental achievement, women's groups started lobbying the federal government to appoint a woman to the Senate. The Government argued that only "qualified persons" could be appointed. The Act used the word "he" when referring to the individual, which some interpreted to mean that only men could legally be "persons". Emily Murphy of Edmonton, Alberta experienced this first hand in 1916 when on her first day of court, a defendant's lawyer challenged one of her rulings as a judge saying that she was not a "person" and did not qualified to act as a judge.
Above images are from the Toronto Public Library Digital Archive collection.
It was only on October 18, 1929 that Canadian women were legally recognized as "persons". The date was declared "Persons Day" in Canada to mark the victory for equal rights. The success of this event comes from the ambition, the networking and the determination of The Famous Five. The group comprised of five relentless women: Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Nellie McClung.
Advocating for women's rights has been an ongoing battle ever since. Many countries around the world are seeing people speaking out for gender equality, even at a price. One of the more recent and famous cases is of Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago on her way home from school. She stood up for her right to have an education in her home country of Pakistan. She received the Noble Peace Prize on October 10, 2014 for her work against suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Prime Minster Stephen Harper has announced that Malala will be coming to Canada on October 22, 2014 to receive a honorary Canadian Citizenship.
On Saturday September 20, 2014, Emma Watson delivered a rousing speech about equal rights, gender stereotypes, and the meaning of feminism to promote the launch of a new U.N. Movement for Gender Equality campaign called HeForShe. In her speech she clarifies what women's rights stands for and corrects any misunderstandings. She calls the voices of both men and women in this fight because it is not just one gender's battle. It was quite shocking to listen as she eloquently stated that, "...sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights. No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality." I believe that one of the great strengths of the public library is that it provides voices to all persons.
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You can find the voices of many people willing to speak up regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and more at the library. There are many strong voices out there and below are some books that are inspirational reads on women's struggles and triumphs in light of this month's celebration of Women's History.