Dalhousie Law Journal


equality, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, women, oppression


The major objective of this article is to contribute to an understanding of the potential impact of the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms2 on the lives of women. This requires an awareness of the realities of women's inequality in our society, an understanding of the legal conceptualization of equality, and a consideration of the role of "law" in remedying societal injustice. My focus in this article is on the second concern-that is, on legal theories of equality as they relate to women. I begin with a brief outline of the conflicting ideological approaches that infuse legal thought on general equality issues and their particular manifestations in the Canadian Charter. The interplay of these contrasting theories is then considered in a historical context of the legal treatment of women, followed by a discussion of the current debate about equality for women in Canada. Finally, I will offer some suggestions about the interpretive direction I think the equality provisions in the Charter should take.