Ten Important Dates in the Evolution of Women’s Rights

Legal News

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, here is a brief summary of how women’s rights have evolved in Quebec since 1918.

1918: Women obtained the right to vote in federal elections, except for certain ethnic groups excluded by law. For example, Asian and Indigenous women were still not allowed to vote.

1940: Quebec became the last province to grant women the right to vote in provincial elections.  

1964: A wife’s duty to obey her husband was abolished.

1969: Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s government passed a law to decriminalize contraception.

1975: Québec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was enacted. Among other things, it prohibits discrimination based on gender.

1979: Quebec women became entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave without the risk of losing their job.

1983: Sexual assault committed by a spouse was recognized as a crime.

1988: Abortion was no longer a crime in Canada.

1996: The Pay Equity Act was enacted.  

2017-2018 – The #MeToo movement went viral: Female victims of sexual assault or harassment took part in demonstrations all over the world. Two months after the movement began, Quebec passed Bill 151 to prevent and combat sexual violence in higher education institutions.