Women’s rights throughout the world are meaningful confirmation of understanding global welfare. Over the years, the issue on women’s rights has gained positive praises immensely. A report from Women’s Rights International shows women’s rights have not been practiced in some countries as expected. In some areas, women’s rights would be expected more, however, guidelines are not changed thereby discouraging the rights of women (Antrobus 2004). In some patriarchal societies, religion or convention can be used as a stumbling block for equal rights. In Bangladesh for instance, the Bangladesh government sought to cover behind laws to reject women equal rights. In Pakistan, meanwhile, honor killings intended for women have been made for the smallest of reasons.
There are various categories of problems around the globe which confront women, from the richest to the poorest countries. There is also the so-called feminization of poverty showing that women are generally the ones who experience the most poverty. Poverty, trade and economic issues are very much related to women’s rights issues because of the impacts they represent. Confronting these issues as well also facilitates to tackle women’s rights issues (Anup 2004).
Nellie McClungNellie McClung was one of the most influential leaders of Canada’s feminism. She is best remembered for her participation in the renowned “Person’s Case” which was instrumental in making Canadian women declared persons in 1929 (Anup 2004). The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1928 that when the British North America Act or the Canada constitution was written, the term “person” was not intended to include women, but only men. As a young woman, McClung was actively involved in social reform and was part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) (Todres 2004). This group was particularly concerned with the social and health problems brought by alcohol and essentially spearheaded the crusade for women’s right to vote in many parts of the country. McClung remained active in the WCTU but she also joined the Winnipeg Political Equality League, a group entrusted to assisting the female wage earners of the city, and the Canadian Women’s Press Club (Shreir, Sally and Harper, F.
John, 1988).She participated actively in the demonstration on the formidable working conditions many women faced. Together with fellow reformers, McClung put up “The Women’s Partliament” which was a satire meant to resist Premier Roblin who strongly fought against giving women the right to vote. Later, women in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia successfully achieved the right to vote in provincial elections (McGowan 1999). In 1914, she joined the Edmonton Equal Franchise League which battled for women’s rights, prohibition and factory safety legislation. In 1921, McClung was elected as a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta where she called for mother’s allowances, public health nursing, free medical and dental care for children, liberalized birth control, divorce laws, and better property rights for married women. McClung will be best remembered as a supporter of women’s right to be ministers in the United Church of Canada, delegate to the League of Nations, and the first woman appointed to the CBC’s Board of Governors.
She died in Victoria in 1951 but continued to live in the spirit of Canadian women’s continuous challenge to achieve social, economic and political equality (Arnaud, A.J., and Kingdom, E., 1990).
Dr. Henry MorgentalerDr. Henry Morgentaler will remain as one of Canada’s most controversial figures when he defied the law and operated the country’s first abortion clinic in 1969. He will be branded both a murderer and a hero for the next couple of decades as he fought to change Canada’s abortion laws (Beauvoir 1983). On October 19, 1967, Morgentaler gave a public testimony before a Government of Canada committee about his opinion that any pregnant woman should have the right to a safe abortion. He was arrested in Quebec in 1970 after he was caught performing an abortion. In three years, the Supreme Court of the United States legalized abortion in the Roe v.
Wade case. Thirteen years after his arrest in Quebec, Morgentaler was accused again in 1983 in Ontario for procuring illegal miscarriages.The Canadian Supreme Court declared the law he was convicted under to be unconstitutional in the case of Morgentaler et al. v. Her Majesty The Queen 1988 (Anup 2004). This ruling inherently concluded all statutory constraints on abortion in Canada.
He is presently working to open two private abortion clinics in the Canadian Arctic, so that women from this area need not travel great distances to obtain abortions (Tsikata 1999). Last year, CTV television network produced a television documentary on Dr. Morgentaler’s life and practice. Then on June 16 that same year, the University of Western Ontario conferred upon Morgentaler his first honorary Doctor of Laws degree. This conferment received tremendous resistance from Canadian’s pro-life organizations. At least 12,000 signatures were obtained asking the UWO to repeal its decision and various protests were held, including one on the day the honorary degree was bestowed.Emily MurphyEmily Murphy was the first woman police magistrate in Alberta, Canada and in the British Empire.
She is known for her profound champion for the rights of women and children. Murphy is part of the “Famous Five” in the Persons Case which constituted the position of women as persons under the BNA Act together with McClung. She was active in many reform exercises in the interests of women and children, including women’s property rights and the Dower Act (Anup 2004). She was also instrumental in achieving great changes to the laws on drugs and narcotics. Murphy was a member of the Equal Franchise League and worked with Nellie McClung on the vote for women. In 1916, Murphy was prevented from attending a trial of prostitutes for the reason that it was not appropriate for mixed company.Emily Murphy protested to the Attorney General and demanded that a special police court be created to try women and that a woman magistrate be named to preside over the court (Antrobus 2004).
She was appointed by the Attorney General to become the police magistrate for the court in Edmonton, Alberta. On her first day in court, Emily Murphy’s nomination was questioned by a lawyer because women were not considered “persons” under the BNA Act. From 1917 to 1929, Murphy led the campaign to have a woman appointed to the Senate and spearheaded the “Famous Five” in the Persons Case which established the status of women as persons under the BNA Act in 1929 (Todres 2004). Emily Murphy wrote “The Black Candle” on drug trafficking in Canada, advocating changes to laws on drugs and narcotics. Her writing echoed the belief that poverty, prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse were caused by immigrants to the West (Grenier 1997).ConclusionA development in Brazil received applause from women’s rights activists when the Brazilian Congress adopted a law that, after twenty-six years of protest and debate, cleared the most discriminatory provision of the 1916 civil code. The new code significantly gave both women and men equal authority in the family, abolishing paternal power, the legal perception that men had total control over decision-making in the family. The causes advocated by McClung and Murphy will forever bear important marks in Canada’s women’s rights history.
They will continue to remind us that women, like men, have their rights too. As human beings, they are entitled to equal privileges which are also provided to men. As for abortion, it will remain a controversial issue that will rock the world continuously. The right of women to abort their children for reasons other than medical complications will be faced with utmost contradictions from all quarters, especially from the so-called pro-lifers. Thus it is an issue that requires debates and various discussions.;