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Presentation Example: Women Issues in Canada

3 pages
598 words
Harvey Mudd College
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According to Canadian Women Foundation (2017), many people believe that women suffrage in Canada ended in the 19th century. It follows the recognition of womens rights to participate in electoral process beginning in Manitoba in 1916 and henceforth adoption in provinces such as Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec in 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1940 respectively (Newton, 2010). However, the 20th century marked the third feminist wave of women suffrage. The key issues that Canadian women face in the 20th century include poverty due to inaccessibility to career prospects and education, physical, reproductive and mental health challenges, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Domestic violence and sexual assault were the leading issues facing Canadian women in 20th century. Data from Canadian Womens Foundation (2017) comparing the rate of sexual assault in 1999 and 2014 shows that sexual abuse is the only form of crime in Canada that has not been declining since the 19th century. Women in Canada were facing abuse and sexual assault in the form of rape, sex trafficking, harassment and domestic violence. The study estimates that up to 47% of the sexually assaulted women have ages of between 15 and 24 years.

Physical, reproductive and mental health was the second common 20th-century issue for Canadian women. The stereotyping of women as domestic workers contributed to declining health literacy and access to health facilities. Suicide due to mental issue persists in the contemporary century as it is the one of the leading factor contributing to mortality of young Canadian women and girls. Furthermore, the persistence of sexual abuse between 19th and 20th centuries is responsible for the deteriorated physical health due to sexually transmitted diseases, smoking, and teenage pregnancy. Indigenous women lacked access to reproductive health due to disproportionately restriction to health care hence the reason for increased teenage pregnancy among Aboriginal, Metis, First Nations, and Inuit girls. Since the reduced number of women were employed, the lack of income limited their access to reproductive healthcare resources such as contraception (Newton, 2010).

Poverty was a prevalent issue among Canadian women due to the lack of education and limited venture into different career prospects. Other systemic barriers existing in 20th century responsible for poverty also include racialization, rural location, gender identity and sexuality, Aboriginal Status and disability. Sexual assault and health issues reduced education success. Schools were not a safe haven as different forms of harassment were witnessed among racially inferior girls. School enrolment rates were lower among girls from rural, immigrant and indigenous backgrounds. Despite the Canadian women making inroads in key professions such as public health, social work, journalism, and teaching in the late 19th century, gender inequality persisted in the 20th century increasing women suffrage. Gender inequality in schools affected womens ability to bridge career opportunity barriers and intellectual capacity to enter into politics and other careers that would empower them to address gender discrimination (Candian Women Foundation, 2013). The lack of education reduced womens political and leadership participation and reduced the opportunities for accessing employment opportunities to favorably compete with men.

In conclusion, poverty, health issues, sexual abuse, and domestic violence signified women suffrage in the 20th century. The present-day efforts to bridge the gender inequality gap left in the 19th and 20th century by various women empowerment groups include the provision of social supports and girl-specific empowerment movements to encourage Canadian girl child to participate in community actions, leadership and policy planning regarding issues that widen the gender inequality gap.



Canadian Women Foundation. (2013). The Facts About Sexual Assault and Harassment. Retrieved from Candian Women Foundation:

Newton, J. (2010). Feminist Challenge to the Canadian Left, 1900-1918. Ontario: McGill-Queen's University Press.


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