Day 13 of the 16 Days of Activism is the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women
In January 1967 a headline in the Globe and Mail newspaper read: “Women threaten march of two million if Royal Commission (on the Status of Women) isn’t granted. Laura Sabia, then President of the Canadian Federation of University Women, had, with a coalition of other organizations, created the Committee for the Equality of Women in Canada which demanded a Royal Commission to study gender equality. They were frustrated with the lack of action.
At the same time, Judy LaMarsh had been working within cabinet to subtly continue the pressure. On Feb.16,1967, a royal commission was announced to “inquire into and report upon the status of women in Canada and to recommend what steps might be taken by the federal government to ensure for women equal opportunities with men in all aspects of Canadian society.”
Its landmark report, published December 7, 1970, established the first targets for equality for Canadian women. The report contained 167 recommendations to help eliminate gender inequality. Recommendations included a national day-care act, paid maternity leave, fair employment practices and credit practices, changes to the Indian Act so indigenous women did not lose their status when they married non-status men, actions to affect the under representation of women in higher education, the absence of women in the upper levels of decision-making in business and government, and many more.
The social action that flowed from the report led to such seminal changes as the Constitutional reforms in which women successfully pressed governments to include sections 15 and 28 in the Canadian constitution and to modify the “notwithstanding” clause.
Areas that were not covered either not at all, or not well, included violence against women,poverty for single mothers, women of colour or refugee women, LGBTQ rights.
Laura Sabia became the first chair of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) formed in 1971, for the purpose of advocating for implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.
By the early 90s, NAC had grown to a powerful coalition of over 700 organizations, fighting for equality and social justice for all women. In addition to improving the status of women, NAC focused on children’s services, domestic violence, poverty and minority rights.
Today: The impact of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, 50 years later | Then vs Now. CBC Mar 8, 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs7LL8lfYlM
For more information:
Policy 4 Women https://policy4women.com/rcsw50/
The Canadian Encyclopedia
“For 50 Years, Canadian Women Have Needed Child Care. Then Came COVID. In 1970, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women linked universal child care to gender equality. Without it, COVID-19 is wrecking women’s careers.”
Michele Landsberg, Chatelaine, Nov.10,2020