By: Nicole Siena
There are many ways one can classify feminism, but by definition it is, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Thus, without brave women taking a stand throughout history advocating for rights, women in the 21st century would be living a life without many of the opportunities we have today. Imagine not being able to vote, or not have the right to own property, or not be considered a “person”. Things we overlook in daily life now, were constant struggles for women not too long ago.
There are a great deal of highly influential feminists in Canada who changed our lives, but their contribution to women’s rights are often overlooked. I’m sure that as Canadians we have heard about the Famous Five, who are the feminists- one of which McClungs was named after – that helped to get women represented in all levels of Canadian politics, and advocated that women are “persons” in 1929.
But who else has helped to shape Canada and its relationship with women?
Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie as an example. She founded the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1907, a francophone women’s organization. Among the various professionals and charitable organizations associated with it, they promote civil and political rights for women.
Particularly, Lajoie’s efforts went to the advocacy a civil code reformation, which accredited a married woman the inferior legal status of a minor. She tried to amend the laws which were unchanged since the 16th century, while working to achieve the rights of married women to control their own income, to have a say in the sale of family property, and to be the guardians of minors.
In 1922, she led 400 suffragists to meet with the Quebec premier in an unsuccessful bid to obtain the right to vote for women. It wasn’t until 18 years later in 1940 that women gained that right.
Lajoie is just one example of someone who has advocated on behalf of all women , and has resulted in a step forward. Women should feel empowered to learn about their past as a gender. How we’ve progressed, who got us where we are today, and where we’re going tomorrow.