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1920s: The Decade Of Rights For Women In Canada

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In Canada, the 1920s was a decade full of social, technological, and economical advancements. Due to these revolutionary transformations, the decade earned the title of the “Roaring Twenties.” One of the significant changes during the 1920s concerned women’s rights and their roles. Women are associated with society through politics, education, and more. Was the revision of women beneficial for them and everyone else? Furthermore, through transitions of technology to newer production and adjustments on existing inventions, and lifestyles have drastically changed. How did they change? How did women’s rights and roles and technological transformation affect the 1920s? Did it lead to progress or regress?

During the 1920s, there was a remarkable increase in the number of rights for women. Throughout this decade, women were considered to be persons and were qualified to become senate. The Person case is a very prominent case which had a long-lasting effect to this day, in relation to women’s rights. The Person case eventuated from five significant women, known as the Famous Five. The Famous Five included Emily Murphy, Henrietta Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby. During this time period, many of them were politically active beforehand with suffrage, political positions, and more. The British North America Act (BNA Act), “used the word “persons” to refer to more than one person and “he” to refer to one individual” (Freeman-Shaw et al., 2014, p.30). Because of this, women were disregarded and were not qualified to become a senate. This discrimination lead the Famous Five to insist on the definition of “person” to include women and for them to be allowed to run for senate. However, the Supreme Court of Canada disapproved of this because of the Candian Constitution. However, the Famous Five had obtained approval from the Supreme Court’s decision to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England. The Decision of the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (October 18, 1929) states that “…women are eligible to be summoned to and become members of the Senate of Canada” (in Freeman-Shaw et al., 2014, p.33). In short, women being considered as persons, and being allowed to run for senate made a drastic change in women’s prominence against inequity. Going against this unfairness is integral because it enhanced the society to be more equal in contrast to sexism.

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Women’s roles in society had drastically changed. Many women started to attend educational institutions, get jobs, and impact the government and society. To specify, “25% of young women attended high school” and “made up to 20% of the labor force” (Freeman-Shaw et al., 2014, p.34). Going to school provided women with a choice to get a job. Evidently, this change affected women positively as it gave them more chances and opportunities. Therefore, “women became more involved in society than they had been before”(Candian history project). In regards to women’s social roles, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s actions have impacted substantially. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is a women’s organization that has campaigned for many issues, such as labor laws, prison reform, alcohol, and suffrage. During the 1920s women believed that alcohol was evil and would lead to many crimes; therefore, the WCTU “convinced government to” (Falk and Plante et al, 2005, p. 74) implement prohibition. The WCTU’s achievements were effective towards women’s roles because they were a very influential and effective women’s group. To elaborate, the fact that women made such a big impact is compelling because, at the time, women were not treated equally compared to men and were discriminated against and neglected. Moreover, the WCTU faced those discriminations and had made such accomplishments and influences leading to improvement in women’s position. Overall, women became more involved in society, and equality was displayed more, resulting in enormous advancements for women.

In the decade of the 1920s, Canada was introduced to several more efficient modern productions and the development of existing inventions, specifically, automobiles and communications. Between all the changes in technology, the development of automobiles was very critical. Henry Ford had created a production line that was very prevalent because it caused cars to become cheaper and more efficient, leading to more prosperity. Through the gain of demand for the production line, the Model T Ford was the most popular automobile. Because of the improvement of the efficiency of automobiles, “50 percent of Canadian homes [owned one]” (Cranny et al., 2010 p.67). Consequently, due to the increase of automobiles, many roads, highways, and other traffic systems were built so that more people could use automobiles. Also, people started to live in locations further away from their workplace because they could easily transport using automobiles. Thus, the mass production of cars had changed people’s lifestyles because of all the adjustments made for improved convenience and comfort for automobile users. Moreover, the radio and telephone saw constructive improvements. Radio was a new source for entertainment, which presented news, music, culture, and various programs. Radio purchasers had expanded all over Canada as Edward Ted Samuel Rogers created a radio which powered through household electric currents without using batteries in 1924 (Freeman-Shaw et al., 2014). Likewise, the telephone was a new source for communication that could allow users to communicate in a more accessible way. In the beginning, telephones were expensive and not many households owned them. However, more people started to purchase telephones as they became cheaper due to innovations of the dial phone in 1924, and the one-piece headset in 1927 (Hoogeveen et al., 2014). Therefore, the improvement of the radio and the telephone lead to a more social community as people were more exposed to communications devices. The radio connected communities, as “people in the remotest areas of Canada were no longer isolated and were brought into contact with other cities of the nation”(History class). The telephone communicated with individuals as it was an “aid to social interaction” (Hoogeveen et al., 2014,p.217). To elaborate, the radio and telephone brought beneficial social changes since people became more connected and social through improved communications. As a result of the transformation of technology, Canadian lifestyles became less burdensome and more social.

To sum up, women’s rights and roles were changed for the better as women and men were starting to be looked at by society with equivalent values. Similarly, convenience and entertainment from technological transformations lead to more content and satisfied citizens. Regardless of other affairs, it is clear that these outcomes portray that the 1920s were progressive due to the number of those who were positively affected. As a result, all of these events were a big step towards our current society.

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1920s: The Decade Of Rights For Women In Canada. (2022, February 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
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