Ten Important Dates in the Evolution of Women’s Rights

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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.  

2021

The Divorce Act was amended to include the notion of family violence. Family violence must be considered by judges during the divorce process and when making decisions about child custody. Family violence is a broad concept, and includes things like sexual, physical, psychological, and financial abuse.