Did the Second Wave of Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s contribute to the passing of gender based anti-discrimination bills in Canada?
In the late 19th century, many Canadian women, feeling repressed and under-represented, developed a strong sense of feminism. They paid closer attention to the inequality between themselves and men around them, and strove to create change in the way they were treated. Women started to speak up for themselves and fight for the right to be better involved and represented in politics. Starting from 1916, women across the country began to sporadically gain the right to vote and to run for public office. By 1960, all women in Canada had the right to vote. Today, this movement is referred to as the Women's Suffrage Movement, or the First Wave of Feminism. Approximately 4 decades later, women began to realize that the right to vote was not enough to create a substantial change in the role of women in society. They believed that in order to make a significant change in social structure, they needed to fight for the equality of rights and opportunities. Books written by feminist writers triggered a new sense of female empowerment, and women all over the country began forming groups and organizations that allowed them to stand together and strive to be better treated and represented. This movement is now called the Women’s Liberation Movement, or the Second Wave of Feminism. During the Second Wave of Feminism, groups led by strong feminists lobbied the government and the Prime Minister to pass bills that would further press the non-discrimination of women in the country. They fought for broader issues than the ones in the First Wave, such as abortion services, health centres, feminist magazines, militant theatre, daycare services, shelters for battered women, rape crisis centres, and equal pay.
Did the Second Wave of Feminism contribute to the passing of anti-discrimination bills in Canada? Some believe that the creation of these laws was not a result of the Second Wave. They argue that the gender-based anti-discrimination bills passed in the 1960s and 1970s were created as geographers warned the government that with the rapidly growing economy, the country would absolutely need women to fill the workforce. Others believe that the bills passed were simply a result of the modernization of social structure, which had nothing to do with the Second Wave of Feminism. Although these reasons did affect the government’s decision to fight against discrimination, the Second Wave of Feminism did affect the passing of gender-based workplace, governmental, and familial gender-based anti-discrimination bills. The laws enforced the prohibition of gender discrimination by employers. They also cleared the way for more female involvement in the government. Additionally, these laws allowed women to have a bigger say in private family issues.
The Second Wave of Feminism led to a more equal treatment of men and women in w...