Canada is destined to be one of the great nations of
the world and Canadian women must be ready for citizenship.
—Nellie McClung, The Stream Runs Fast
The Famous 5 achieved significant advances toward
reaching political and economic equality between men and
women. A woman's right to vote and hold political office,
including in the Senate, were important victories, but
certain laws still discriminated against women.
Laws and amendments to improve women's status were
forthcoming after the Second World War. The United Nations
General Assembly (UN) adopted the
Universal Declaration of
Human Rights in 1948, which mandated political equality on
the basis of gender and equal pay for equal work. The UN
also established a permanent
Commission on the Status of
Women in 1946 to investigate and report on the treatment of
women around the world and to pass resolutions to protect
their rights under the UN Charter. Canada also established a
Royal Commission in 1967 to study the status of women in the
country and to recommend changes and additions to Canada's
laws that would ensure equal opportunities for both sexes.
From this Commission grew the federal agency,
Women Canada, which ensures that all federal departments
implement policies in accordance with the principles of
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights carried a high
degree of weight, but it did not guarantee equal pay for
equal work and the right to work. In Canada, provinces held
responsibility for labour relations, so legislation
establishing these rights had to be passed separately in
each province or agreed upon through collective bargaining
between unions and employers. In 1950, no province had
passed such legislation, though many Canadian unions had
negotiated contracts that included equal pay for equal work.
Furthermore, employers were more likely to lay off women and
to promote men, regardless of their demonstrated abilities.
This violated women's right to work. Not until the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms was passed in 1982 did women
finally achieve full political and economic equality with
Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and
freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male
and female persons.
—Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 28