The Pride of Being a Woman Before WW1 in Canada, women were discriminated against, and were not considered being “persons. ” However during the war while men were off fighting, women were given the opportunity to occupy many jobs, at which they found their sense of independence and pride. After WW1, women realized that they were just as strong as men and deserved to have equal right just as they did. Women decided to fight for their rights, and improve the roles of woman in Canada forever.
For example, women moved away from being known as housewives, and joined the work force. Women struggled to be considered equal to men, however through the efforts of the suffrage movement, women earned the right to vote, decreased spousal abuse through prohibition, as well changed the working roles and professions of women. Women fought for the right to vote in order to have their voices and opinions heard, so that they would be regarded as “persons” and be able to make improvements in Canada.
Disenfranchisement became unacceptable to women. From the year 1791 and for the next hundred years, men were the only ones allowed to vote, and hold political office However, this view changed in the midst of the 19th century, when women’s organizations began wanting improvements for the society’s needs and better working conditions for women working in factories.
The suffrage movement began in the 1890’s in western Canada where one of the many organizations concerning suffrage was created, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union , which was one of the many organizations and suffrage groups that initiated meetings, presentations, and demonstrations , and also sent petitions to the government concerning the woman’s right to vote. The WCTU was an organization that empowered woman to voice their concerns to the government.
In 1911, a woman named Nellie McClung made a difference in speeding up the process of getting women the right to vote by arriving in Winnipeg and who spoke at over 400 public meetings concerning suffrage. McClung was known as the leading suffragette. In 1912, Nellie McClung helped organized an organization that would increase the number of supporters, called the the Political Equity League. Many men, including ones who were politicians, became in favor of granting women the right to vote. In 1916, Manitoba passed a law that would grant women enfranchisement, and was soon followed by other provinces. However, this ight only applied to provincial elections, not federal elections. Finally in 1918, the Women’s Franchise Law allowed women who were over the age of 21 to vote in federal elections. Women had won, for in 1919 women were also granted the right to hold political office in parliament, where in 1921 Agnes Macphail was the first woman to be elected as a federal member. By being granted the right to vote, women were able to express their concerns of poverty, social reforms, alcohol abuse, and much more. Nellie McClung was a strong woman who helped empower the suffrage movement in granting woman the right to vote and be considered persons.
Without fighting for the right to vote, woman would never have been able to make changes in Canada, as well as the rest of the world. Women believed that the source of their husband’s abuse was alcohol, and to decrease the amount of abuse inflicted upon wives, women began pressuring governments into passing prohibition laws. Women believed that fathers and husbands would spend their pay cheques on alcohol and beer after work, rather than bringing the money home to support their families. Furthermore, when men came home drunk, they had the tendency to beat their wives and children.
In order to campaign prohibition, many women joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in the 1920s that fought for the rights of women. Temperance movements blamed the consumption of alcohol for many of society’s downturns, especially crime and murder By the beginning of the 20th century, women had fought for, and succeeded in having prohibition laws passed in nearly every province. Women and politicians believed that prohibition laws should be enforced because the grain from alcohol could be used to feed people, and money spent on alcohol could be used to feed families.
Improvements were made in Canada with the illegalization of the consumption and manufacturing of alcohol; crime rates dropped, arrest for drunkenness decreased, workers took pay cheques homes, and industrial efficiency improved. By women campaigning prohibition in order to have their concerns and opinions heard, they made a difference in Canada by decreasing crime rates, and making people realize what alcohol can do to a person’s behaviour, and how it can endanger others.
Before WW1, a woman’s main role was as a housewife, however during the war women joined the labour force and occupied many jobs as secretaries, clerks, and typists that were not conceivable to the public before the war. After the war, women decided that it was time to join the work force, and gain independence. Women viewed themselves as spending their lives taking care of the home, having babies, and obeying their husbands. Nevertheless, women began to move away from this attitude by 1911 where they began focusing on their careers and education.
By 1917 there were 35 000 women employed in Ontario and Montreal. Women were paid less than men for completing the same amount of work, as well many women were laid off following the war, yet by the 1920’s women re-established their war time involvement. Women found their sense of independence, and began occupying jobs in the fields of library work, teaching, social work, and clerical. Women began realizing how important the right of having an education was, so women began entering universities and by 1930, 23% of undergraduates and 35% of all graduates were students who were female.
The Great Depression showed women many struggles, by launching them back into the domestic service, and having them be laid off more than men. With the help of 21 Women’s organizations, a National Selective Service worked to have women recruited back into the industrial labor force. Governments had troubles recruiting women with children, or married women into the labor force. However, by 1942, 33. 2% of all women were employed in Canada. Women worked hard to have the attitude of being known as housewives changed.
By the way women persevered in having an education and finding better employment, they gained respect and independence. They occupied jobs that were initially viewed as being a man’s “duties”. When women were given the opportunity, they found it within themselves to fight for justice and rights among all women, which ended up changing the future of Canada’s next generations of girls and women alike. Though women struggled to be viewed as equal to men, through the suffrage movement and fighting for the right to vote, prohibition, and getting women into the labor force, women achieved the rights and freedoms that they deserved.
In present years, women have the right to vote in elections, and are able to have an education, and occupy a multitude of different professions, such as teachers, secretaries, and doctors. Because of prohibition, women have found the courage to stand up to their abusive husbands. Canada has improved as a country because of women like Nellie McClung, who were not afraid to fright for, and make improvements, and changes in Canada. If women in the 1920s did not fight for these rights and stand up for what they believe in, women in the twenty first century would not have the rights and freedoms that they do now.
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