A time when women weren’t persons … and other equally unequal inequalities

In 1927 a group of Canadian women’s rights activists, including Emily Murphy, who was born 147 years ago today

Emily Murphy, Women’s Rights Activist, born 14 March 1868, Cookstown, Ontario, died 17 October 1933, Edmonton, Alberta.

launched the Persons Case, which contended that women were qualified persons eligible to sit in the Senate. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that they were not (I wonder what the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, thought women were, if not persons?). But, on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council, the court of last resort for Canada at that time, the women won their case.

It’s extraordinary to think that only 88 years ago such things had to be debated, that it wasn’t a matter of ordinary fact. That only 67 years ago the United Nations declared and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That only 50 years ago the Selma Voting Rights Movement led to the Voting Rights Act. And so much more that has (and still hasn’t) happened in terms of our humanity and equality. What is it with us humans that we feel we must segregate and divide ourselves? Why do we fail to find our curiosity about each other?

On 18 February, on her radio show The Invisible Dimension, my sister, Sue Tribolini

Sue Tribolini

interviewed Kass Thomas

Kass Thomas

who has her own show on the same radio station, a2zen.fm (a Canadian internet station). They discussed how we might live without prejudice. Kass suggested curiosity was the way. If we ask, ‘What’s it like to be you?’ and ‘What’s life like for you?’ instead of assuming we know (and so holding on to our prejudices) we might begin to get somewhere: somewhere better than where we are now.

Those will be my questions from now on: no need for a parallel universe where time is infinite and all things are possible this month: these questions belong right here, right now, in this world, where time and our humanity are the most precious things we have.

About Angela

I write fiction about the difficulty we have when we try to say what's in our hearts.
This entry was posted in Equality, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.