Today I am pleased to announce a guest post on women’s right to vote, written by blogger and costume designer Resa. The journey to women’s suffrage in Canada is eye-opening.
100 years ago, #GreenWhiteViolet meant, “Give Women the Vote.” Yet, what does it mean now, and why do I care?
The largely male-dominated world is a mess. To make it work better, I believe that the pragmatic answer is found by commingling the nurturing intuitional intelligence of women equally with the aggressive hard-line intelligence of men.
Nonetheless, women were and are currently sidelined to varying degrees, depending on the situation and issue.
I believe Canadian women have the earned right, and should be at the forefront of peaceful dialogue for a decent global future. This is because our sociopolitical evolution has been exemplary.
In the early 1900s, women of the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America who were involved in a political movement to obtain their right to vote became known as “Suffragettes.”
Canadian women were part of the Suffrage movement. Of the many inspiring sisters before us, my favorites are Dr. Emily Howard Stowe, Dr. Augusta Stowe Gullen, and Nellie McClung.
Canada’s first female doctor, Dr. Emily Howard Stowe, began the Canadian Suffrage movement in the late 1800s in Ontario, Canada.
In a world without computers, let alone Twitter, to communicate, the “Suffragettes” used fashion and jewelry to speak to each other. It was their special secret language.
The first order of the day was to wear soft, white, and feminine pieces of clothing to contradict the male journalistic visage of a hardened harpy.
Then Mrs. Pethick Lawrence from the UK came up with the colours.
Green = Hope
White = Purity
Purple = Freedom & Dignity
Rings, pendants, and brooches designed with peridots, emeralds, pearls, diamonds, amethysts, and garnets were worn. Jewelry with chains & bars denoted she had been to jail for the cause. There was so much symbolism in the suffragette jewelry.
Or, perhaps that she had been a “Hunger Striker.”
Working-class women did not need to worry about how to afford white dresses and jewelry. They were simply focused on using the colors to express commitment. Sashes, scarves, ribbons, and flowers all worked quite nicely.
By the time Emmiline and Christabel Parkhurst of the UK changed purple to violet to fit the slogan “Give Women the Vote,” Dr. Emily Howard Stowe’s daughter, Dr. Augusta Stowe Gullen, had taken up the cause.
The Canadian “Suffragettes” did not experience the banal cruelty of imprisonment and starvation via hunger strikes as their European and American sisters had. No one had to throw themselves in front of King George V’s racehorse and die, as Emily Davison had done. Men, in fear, did not have to pass a law limiting the length of a woman’s hatpin to no longer than eight inches.
Rather, the deed got done with unyielding and continuous education, perpetual petitioning of the government, the introduction of bill after a bill by male supporters (Suffragists), and humor, yes, even humor.
With special thanks to Nellie McClung, a best-selling author of her day, women attained the right to vote at the provincial level in Manitoba on January 27, 1916.
Nellie and her gals put on a play, a mock session of Parliament. With Nellie as Premier, women held the power. Humorously, the women debated if men should get the vote. It gained national attention.
Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario followed suit, giving women the vote in 1917, and Nova Scotia followed suit on April 26, 1918.
Finally, on May 24, 1918, Canadian women were granted the right to vote federally.
Women’s provincial rights to vote were further peacefully granted: New Brunswick in 1919, Yukon in 1919, Prince Edward Island in 1922, Newfoundland in 1925, and North West Territories in 1951.
Due to the Quebec provincial government colluding with the Catholic Church, women in Quebec were not entitled to vote until 1940. Quebec women owe thanks to the courage of Thérèse Casgrain for that amazing step.
In regards to Aboriginal women (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), the federal Legislature abolished the last formal restrictions on political citizenship in 1960.
Yay! Women in Canada have been voting for almost 100 years now.
Today, Ontario has an openly gay female Premier, Kathleen Wynne.
Women’s suffrage in Canada and looking ahead
However, Canada has never elected a woman Prime Minister. Our only female Prime Minister was Kim Campbell (in office from June 25, 1993, to November 4, 1993), who inherited the position from resigning Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. She was the first female leader of the PC party. And, no woman, Canadian or of any other nationality, can be a Catholic priest.
Globally, women still have a long way to go. Men and women are both parts of the human equation. Women worldwide need to become more empowered in business, politics, and religion. Men have never given it to us; we’ve earned every step we’ve taken.
It’s time to #GreenWhiteViolet on social media, but with a new message(s) for our current time and situation!
Global Women’s Village
Global Women’s Vision
Greatness Warrants all Views
What do you think it can mean?
About today’s writer
Resa is a costume designer who works in film and television. Based in Ontario, Canada, she also designs unique clothing and one-of-a-kind accessories. On her blog Art Gowns, she steps out of the box with the concept that her gowns are art, a poetic visual expression to be worn in heart, mind, spirit, and body.