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Women in Canada, Confederation, Women's Equality, Canada


If you were able to close your eyes in 1867 and open them in 2017, you’d find that Canada was a surprisingly different place. Women have made sure of that.

The revolution has come along two axes. First, there is the dramatic increase in women’s participation in every aspect of public life—from education to the paid workforce, to public office, to science and the arts. Second, there is the effect of that engagement on the way Canada has evolved. If you could close your eyes again, take women’s public participation out of the equation, and then open them, Canada would be an impoverished version of itself. We would know less and be less. Writing two thousand words on women in Canada is like asking an author to write about Canada, period.

This essay could be filled with facts showing how the last 150 years have witnessed a revolution in women’s equality and making the point that women in Canada have revolutionized who we are. But the point might be more elegantly conveyed by offering the stories of six women: one for each quarter-century of Canada’s 150-year (post- Confederation) history. These stories are not representative; they are partial and refractive. They remind us that the revolution is everywhere— from your grandmother, to the theatre in your region, to Parliament Hill, to your neighbourhood school.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.