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Organizing Health Care



With their experience as the traditional health-care providers in communities, it followed that health care became one of the major issues for the women's organizations that developed in the early 20th century. They were interested in providing all women with medical knowledge so that they would be better able care for their families and communities. For instance, the Alberta Women's Institute and the United Farm Women of Alberta held discussions on the sensitive issues of reproduction and birth control and organized lectures and courses on contagious diseases, sanitation in the home, childcare and nutrition.  They also helped create the Alberta District Nursing Service in 1919 to meet the needs for midwifery and to provide emergency medical services.


With the growth of domestic science (as discussed in the Education Section) in schools and colleges, encouraged by women's organizations, health-care in the home became an important matter to be studied and advanced with new and technology. Organizations, like the Red Deer Quota Club, also volunteered as health-care workers in times of need, such as during the World Wars and the influenza epidemic. Most importantly perhaps, they campaigned government to introduce medical professionals, including as women nurses, and state-run hospitals into municipal areas.

Women have been very important to the provision and development of health care in Alberta. They filled the void before the arrival or hospitals in many areas by applying their own home remedies to cure illnesses and care for the sick. Some women, like midwives, became experts at performing certain procedures. Women took it upon themselves to increase their medical training and knowledge. Also, they were the most active in campaigning government for the development of a health-care system that would benefit all communities. 


  • Bradford, James.  The Rise of Agrarian Democracy.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

  • McManus, Sheila.  "Gender(ed) Tensions in the Work and Politics of Alberta Farm Women 1905-29."  Telling Tales.  Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2000.

  • Von Heyking, Amy.  "Red Deer Women and the Roots of Feminism."  Alberta History 1994 42(1): 14-25.




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