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History of Women in Politics

Women In Politics

Social class, status, and power are predetermined by one’s gender. Within today’s patriarchal society, men simply possess greater power than women, “and enjoy greater access to what is valued by the social group.” (Code 1993, 19) Patriarchal thought produces male dominance, and authority within multiple areas, including politics. Throughout history, governments have designed laws to maintain such divisions of power, resulting in the oppression of women. “Patriarchal power relations construct sexual differences as political differences by giving legal form to the belief that women, because of their sex, are fit only to serve as wives and mothers.” (Vickers 1997, 8) One must question how women can achieve greater influence within the male political arena if they are not viewed as equal? How are determined women attempting to change their position within society, regarding politics? Multiple changes have been made throughout history regarding the place of women in society, but are they leading towards equality?

The main goal of the women’s movement was basic citizenship rights for women. For decades, many of the first women’s groups strived for their civil, and political rights as women. Their central focus was the right to vote, and the right to run for office. The purpose was to claim a role in democratic politics. Many believed that in order to attain political goals, the right to vote was vital. The women’s movement “has touched the lives of many Canadian women, radically transforming the nature of their everyday experiences.” (Burt 1993, 9) Women assumed that once the right to vote was granted, equality in the eyes of males was soon to follow, along with their new influence within politics.

After the right to federal franchise for women was established, females continued to be disqualified from positions within the Senate because they were not considered qualified “persons” as defined by the British North America (BNA) Act. (Burt 1993, 246) It was not until 1929 when five women from Alberta disputed the BNA Act, and the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council determined that women be recognized as “persons” within the law.

Soon, it became apparent that legal rights alone would not be enough for women to acquire an impressive influence within politics. Within the nineteen sixties, and seventies, women continued to remain fixtures within the second-class, and unable...

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