Voting Rights for Women
Seventy-three years ago, on April 25, 1940, Bill 18 was passed, putting an end to electoral discrimination against women. Québec women were finally be able to vote and stand for office. This was a culmination of more than thirty years of persistent lobbying by the suffragates struggling against arguments such as the one raised by legislative councilor, L.A. Giroux during legislative debates: “The argument of the similarity with the other provinces is cited, as if for some, progress consists of aping what others do. Québec has its traditions, its customs and they are its strength and its greatness. Were this bill to pass, women would resemble a star having left its orbit.”
On October 2, 2000, the Directeur général des élections du Québec, the Conseil du statut de la femme, the Commission de la capitale nationale and the National Assembly unveiled a poster underscoring the 60th anniversary of women’s right to vote. “The artist, Brigitte Labbé, offers us a serene woman, a woman who belongs to every era, a woman” free to make her voice heard”. The poster created from this work of art is a testimony to all women, for there can be no democracy without them.”
Female Genital Mutilation
According the “The Guardian,” More than 70 women and girls in Britain seek treatment every month after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), with the actual number subjected to the illegal practice likely to be far higher, figures reveal.
The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is launching a helpline to protect children from FGM. This is based on figures indicating that more than 1,700 victims were referred to specialist clinics in the past two years. The youngest victim was seven.
FGM – a dangerous procedure that involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs – is common in some African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities in the UK.
Carried out in secret and often without anesthetic, FGM has been illegal since 1985 but there has never been a prosecution over it in the UK. Children who are victims of FGM or at risk often do not know that it is abusive and harmful, because it is done at the behest of their family.
Voices for Women Worldwide (VOW) promotes “voices” for “voiceless” women, young girls and boys, with men supporting gender equality. To join, visit
Gender Equality – based on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress Meeting New Challenges
- Of the world’s one billion poorest people, three fifths are women and girls.
- Of the 960 million adults in the world who cannot read, two thirds are women.
- Seventy per cent of the 130 million children who are out of school are girls.
- With notable exceptions, such as Rwanda and the Nordic countries, women are conspicuously absent from parliaments, making up, on average, only 16 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide.
- Everywhere, women typically earn less than men, both because they are concentrated in low-paying jobs and because they are paid less for the same work.
- Although women spend about 70 per cent of their unpaid time caring for family members, that contribution to the global economy remains invisible.
- Up to half of all adult women have experienced violence at the hands of their intimate partners.
Systematic sexual violence against women has characterized almost all recent armed conflicts and is used as a tool of terror and “ethnic cleansing.”
- In sub-Saharan Africa, 57 per cent of those living with HIV are women, and young women aged 15 to 24 years are at least three times more likely to be infected than men of the same age.
- Each year, half a million women die and 10 to 15 million suffer chronic disability from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth
Taking Gender Equality Seriously: Making Progress, Meeting New Challenges. New York. United Nations Development Programme UNDP: 2006. http://www.wunrn.com/news/2006/06_05_06/061206_realities_gender.htm