By: Robin Jackson, Executive Director CFUW National Office
81 years ago today women were finally declared to be “Persons.” The decision was in response to the work of five women, known as the “Famous Five,” Emilie Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards, who petitioned the Supreme Court to define the word “persons” as inclusive of women. Women had been elected to the House of Commons, but could not sit in the Senate because they were not considered “persons” under the law.
The Supreme Court ruled against them, but the women took the case to the final court of appeal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. On October 18, 1929, the Council ruled that the word “persons” includes members of both the male and female sex, “and that women “are eligible to be summoned to and become members of the Senate of Canada.”
For the last 30 years, Status of Women Canada has presented Governor General’s Awards to five women who have contributed to women’s equality. This year was no exception and Governor General David Johnson, hosted a presentation in Commemoration of the Persons Case to honour five women who were this year’s recipients. I was attended on behalf of CFUW. Marie Louise Fish, Lucille Harper, Kerline Joseph, Anne Michaud, and Barbara Mowat were awarded this year’s awards.
To learn more about click here.