Women’s Equality & the Charter of Rights and Freedoms


Canadian women began mobilizing in anticipation of constitutional reform in 1980.  After a series of mass actions, conferences, and lobbying, women across Canada were successful in achieving significant amendments to the Section 15 equality rights by January 1981.  Between 1982 and 1985, women worked to get additional provisions needed to guarantee equality to male and female persons added to the charter. These were eventually accomplished with the acceptance of Section 28 which, together with Section15, established women’s constitutional right to equality. 

Nancy Ruth, Linda Palmer Nye, and Marilou McPhedran talked to Rise Up about the importance of the struggle and also explained the importance of Section 28, which said: “Notwithstanding anything else in this Charter, the rights and freedoms in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

still with Nancy Ruth, Sue Colley, Marilou McPhedran, and Linda Palmer-Nye

“the measurement at that time… was that equality applied to being the same… it wasn’t equality in result. It wasn’t actually the living of rights. It was a formalisation that allowed discrimination to continue”

Marilou McPhedran

more posts