Today is Persons Day in Canada, marking the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal.
This gave some women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life.
Though this decision did not include all women, such as Indigenous women and women of Asian heritage and descent, it did mark critical progress in the advancement of gender equality in Canada.
Today, British Columbia Premier John Horgan released the following statement:
Today we mark a milestone in Canada’s history when women were declared ‘persons’ under the law. This was a turning point in the fight for women’s rights and equality and opened the door for women to participate in political life.
On October 18th, 1929, the Supreme Court decision was won thanks to the courage and determination of five women, known as the Famous Five: Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards.
While the Person’s Case was an important breakthrough, it is crucial to recognize that rights were not won equally.
Many women in Canada, including Indigenous women, women of colour, and women with disabilities faced inequalities, discrimination and barriers to participating in civic life, and do still.
Representation matters. We need to make sure all people — especially people who continue to face discrimination and barriers — are represented in our political institutions. That’s why the BC NDP has over 50% women running to serve their communities in the Legislature and has the most diverse slate of candidates, ever.
The BC NDP will continue to fight for a more just and equal future for women, girls, two-spirit, trans and gender-diverse people across the province.
As we work together to get through this pandemic, we need to recognize the impact it’s had on gender equality in BC. Women have worked on the frontlines of every sector to serve their communities, while shouldering the burden of unpaid care work at home.
The majority of job losses due to COVID-19 in BC were for women, and rates of domestic violence increased in the last six months.
Now, more than ever, we need to put in place policies and services that help achieve justice and equality for women, girls, two-spirit, trans and gender-diverse people — like accessible child care, equal pay legislation, free prescription contraception, support services for people who experience gender-based violence, resurrecting the BC Human Rights Commission, direct support for families, and more.
Together, we can keep building a better province for everyone.