International Women's Day

Join us in celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th! We've prepared a fun and informative video all about the amazing and inspirational Canadian women who have helped fight for women's rights and against injustice. We hope you take the time to watch it and share with others.

 

Timeline

View as an infographic

1876 Dr. Emily Stow, a Pioneer physician, becomes the first Canadian female doctor to practice in Canada.
1897 Dr. Clara Brett Martin becomes the first woman to practice law in Canada as well as the entire British Empire.
1900 The Married Women’s Property Act is enacted - this allows a wife to own property separately from her husband, and also gave women the legal ability to control their own wages and profits. Women are now also jointly responsible for the support of their children.
1912 Carie Derick becomes the first woman in Canada to become a full professor, at McGill University in Montreal.
1916 White women from Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan are now legally allowed to vote in their province.

Emily Murphy is appointed Canada’s first female judge.

1917 White women in Ontario and British Columbia obtain voting rights in their provinces.
1918 White Canadian women win the right to vote in federal elections.
1919 White women in New Brunswick achieve the right to vote in their province.
1920's The Women’s Labour League emerges in Canada. Modeled on the British Women’s League, they defend female workers and call for equal pay, maternity leave, birth control and minimum wage laws.
1921 British Columbia passes maternity leave legislation - six weeks of leave before and after giving birth. No other Canadian jurisdiction will have maternity leave until 1964, almost 40 years later.

17.7% of women 14 years and older are employed in the labour force, mainly in office work.

Nellie McClung, Liberal MPP is elected to the Alberta legislature. She campaigns for mothers’ allowance, old age pensions, better factory conditions, minimum wage, birth control, and legal protection for widows.

1922 White women in Prince Edward Island win the right to vote in their province.
1925 In Newfoundland, white women 25 years and older win the right to vote.
1927-
1929
The ‘Persons’ Case’ - The Famous Five Women petition the Senate and the Privy Council of Great Britain to make women “persons” as well. They are successful.
1928 Canada’s Olympic Team includes women for the first time.

Anna Dexter becomes Canada’s first female radio broadcaster.

1930’s 19.4% of women aged 14 years and older are part of the labour force, sometimes even working as the sole breadwinner during the Great Depression.
1939-
1945
(World War II) 
The number of women in the workforce increases, including jobs in the army in support services and nursing. This challenged the stereotype of women unable to do “men’s jobs”, and also gave many women financial independence.
1940 In Quebec, white women win the right to vote.

Huguette Plamondon is elected president of the Montreal labour Council in 1955 and becomes the first woman to lead a major Canadian labour organization.

1948-
1949
Chinese, Japanese and Black women are legally allowed to vote in federal elections.
1951 The International Labour Organization (ILO) passes Convention 100, calling for “equal pay for equal work.”

Many provinces as well as the federal government pass equal pay legislation.

Aboriginal women are legally allowed to vote, but only if they are willing to give up their native status.

1952 Restrictions are removed on married women working in the federal public services. Previously, female public service employees were fired after getting married.
1956 The Female Employees Equal Pay Act is passed, which made wage discrimination based on sex against the law.
1960-
1985 
Birth of the Women’s Liberation Movement
Women demanded equal wages and job opportunities as well as the elimination of sexual harassment.
1960  Aboriginal people, including women, gain the right to vote in federal elections.
1970 39.9% of women aged 15 years and older are part of the labour force, but the annual earnings of women working full-time is only 59% of those of men.

The first women's shelters are formed.

1971 Quebec allows female jurors after eight Quebec women are jailed for protesting the all-male jury law.
1972 Rosemary Brown becomes the first black woman to be elected to political office in Canada, as part of BC’s NDP Member of Legislative Assembly.
1974  The RCMP hires its first female.

Jeanne-Mathilde Sauve is the first female Speaker of the House of Commons.

1982 Canadian Constitution Act declares Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to be guaranteed equally to men and women.

Violence against women becomes a national issue after Margaret Mitchell, an NDP MP for Vancouver East, is laughed at when she brings up the issue in the House of Commons. This begins an outcry from women.

1983 Rape laws are broadened to sexual assault laws, making it a criminal offense for a man to rape his wife.

In Ontario, police are directed to lay charges in domestic violence cases.

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment in workplaces.

1988  Pay equity complaints are filed by individual Bell Canada employees.

Bertha Wilson becomes the first female Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

1989 December, 6th, 14 female engineering students are massacred at the Ecole. Polytechnique de Montreal, by a man who believed he was killing feminists. The day is now marked by the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.
1990’s 52% of women aged 15 years and older are part of the labour force.
1993 Kim Campbell becomes the first female Prime Minister of Canada.
2000 Almost 59% of women aged 15 years and older are part of the labour force.
2005  Michaelle Jean becomes Canada’s first Afro-Caribbean Governor General.

Canada is the fourth Country to legalize same-sex marriage.

2006 Bev Busson is appointed as the first female Commander of the RCMP.
2007 For the first time, the Québec cabinet is comprised of an equal number of men and women.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a longtime Inuit leader, activist and environmentalist, is nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Price.

2009  Andrea Howarth becomes the first-ever female leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP).

For the first time ever, there are more women than men in the labour market.

2013 Kathleen Wynne becomes the first female Premier of Ontario.
2015 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces that 15 of the 30 cabinet members are women, and they are also of diverse backgrounds.