Back Story

Kenojuak AshevakAgnes MacphailViola DesmondMadeleine ParentMary-Ann Shadd

While the granting of the vote to some women in Canada in 1916 and 1917 is an important milestone in our political history, it was just the beginning of the journey for women’s formal political engagement in the federal, provincial and territorial arenas.  In fact, for many women it would take several more decades before they gained this fundamental right.

Quebec was the last province to grant women the right to vote in 1940.  Moreover, indigenous women living on reserves were only granted the vote in Canada in 1960, underscoring the deep roots of a racist approach applied to indigenous peoples overall and other selected groups.

Consequently, selected other minority groups within Canada fought for decades to earn the right to vote, and were rejected time and again. It was not until Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms was passed in 1982 that the right to vote was fully enshrined in law.

In better understanding the struggles of women to join the Canadian political fabric, Equal Voice recognizes that the journey is not yet complete.

Despite the advances in women's political participation in Canada, women are under-represented, often significantly, in every federal, provincial and territorial legislature in Canada.

  • Today, only 26 percent of elected members in Canada’s national Parliament, the House of Commons, are women;
  • Women’s representation in provincial and territorial legislatures ranges from 9 to 37 percent;
  • Canada has only had one women serve as Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, who served for less than a year in 1993;
  • Canada's first female cabinet minister was not appointed until 1957;
  • Canada’s  first female Speaker of the House of Commons was only elected in 1980.

We need far more women, including young women of all backgrounds and social locations, to see themselves in positions of power, and see politics as part of their futures.

If you are between the ages of 18 to 23, Equal Voice invites you to apply to take YOUR seat in Parliament and make history with us.

For more information on the history of women's right to vote in Canada: