Fascinating Account of Gender Rights Struggle

Winnipeg Free Press, July 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

Fascinating Account of Gender Rights Struggle


This meticulously written, reasoned and researched work is a fascinating account of this history of Canadian women's rights.

Toronto author and academic Lorna Marsden is expert in her analysis of women's struggles to achieve equality in this country. Currently a sociology professor at York University, she's a past president of both York and Wilfrid Laurier Universities, a former senator and a past president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

A recent poll by the TrustLaw women's legal database called Canada the most woman-friendly G20 country, based on the opinions of 370 gender experts internationally.

However, experts say Canada still has a long way to go, and Marsden's book substantiates these concerns.

Canadian women still don't have pay equity and still face discrimination in many areas.

Marsden, a member of the Order of Canada, starts with the question: "Why were women ignored in the first Constitution Act of 1867?"

One of the reasons, she states, is that "most Canadians of any walk of life considered women to be secondary to men in every way."

Those who disagreed with that viewpoint believed that it was only "through motherhood that women achieved a higher moral status."

In practice, though, this theory denied women any "significant participation in other aspects of society."

In April 1985, Marsden observes, everything changed for Canadian women when the equality rights sections of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 came into force.

She writes: "At this point, the concepts and aspirations associated with gender equality became an active part of one of our most important institutions -- our Constitution."

With an informative set of explanatory footnotes and a comprehensive index, Marsden fills in the history of the Canadian woman's evolution. …

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