Women: Persons under the law

Last week my middle daughter was given a project for school. She was given a year, 1929, and was told to research a court decision which was passed that year in Canada. History was far from my favourite subject and therefore not one I’m strong in, so when she first told me about it I didn’t know what decision they meant and had to look it up.

The decision in question was the Persons Case. It was 89 years ago today, October 18, 1929, that the Privy Council of England reversed a previous Supreme Court decision and officially said that Women are Persons under the law. I realize this isn’t news, but let that sink in a bit. Less than a life time ago Women were not considered persons, and a Supreme Court ruling upheld that before being overturned. 

Here is a Heritage Minute on Emily Murphy one of the women who fought for years to have this take place.

It’s hard for me to even fathom a time where that seemed acceptable. All the strong women in my life all they have and will accomplish, and they would have been considered less than a person. Yet here we are, while the law may say they are persons, can vote, own property and hold any political position, there are still so many instances and examples that prove things are still not equal.

While things have come far in the last 89 years it’s still far to slow. Women like Emily Murphy are still fighting everyday to overcome barriers put in front of them, standards which are set higher for them then male counterparts, even things as basic as equal pay. Although I like to consider myself above this mistreatment I still have far to go. If I’m honest I still leave my wife more than her share of the household or family responsibilities, things which would be seen as traditional women’s work. That is unfair, complacent, and lazy on my part. I need to do better in this and many ways.

While my daughter was going over her presentation with me that she prepared for this project I couldn’t help but think, thank goodness she isn’t growing up in that time. Then immediately my thoughts shifted to how, although she won’t have those exact struggles, she and ever other woman will still have struggles to overcome that I didn’t have to think about or even know existed.

At times the conversations around this topic are difficult and uncomfortable, but that is minor. There is still so much more I need to educate myself on and change, I encourage everyone to do the same. 

More articles and information about the Persons Case

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