The Fight for Substantive Equality: Women's Activism and Section 15 Of The Charter of Rights

  • Mary Eberts Current: Hensel Barristers, Toronto This article was written when the author was Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.
Keywords: constitutional history, constitutional law, equality rights

Abstract

Abstract

This article discusses the role of women’s groups in the development of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Charter’s principal equality rights guarantee, entrenched in the Constitution in 1981. Thanks to the leadership of Doris Anderson, submissions to the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution from the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW), the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), and the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) were instrumental in securing changes to section 15. However, the version in the entrenched Charter still fell short of women’s aspirations.

 

Résumé

Cet article aborde le rôle des groupes féministes dans l’élaboration de l’article 15 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, principale garantie de l’égalité des droits dans la Charte, incorporée à la Constitution en 1981. Grâce au leadership de Doris Anderson, les soumissions au Comité mixte spécial sur la Constitution du Canada faites par le Conseil consultatif canadien sur la situation de la femme (CCCSF), le Comité canadien d’action sur le statut de la femme (CCASF) et l’Association nationale Femme et Droit (ANFD) ont joué un rôle déterminant dans l’obtention des modifications à l’article 15. Toutefois, la version incorporée à la Charte ne répondait toujours pas pleinement aux aspirations des femmes.

Author Biography

Mary Eberts, Current: Hensel Barristers, Toronto This article was written when the author was Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.
Mary Eberts joined Hensel Barristers as counsel in 2013, after completing her term as Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan. She has litigated in trial or appellate courts in most of the jurisdictions in Canada, in the Federal Court and Court of Appeal, in the Supreme Court of Canada, and at inquests and administrative proceedings, appearing as counsel in many leading cases. She has been litigation counsel for the Native Women’s Association of Canada for over twenty years, and was a co-founder of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She writes and lectures, nationally and internationally, on constitutional and Charter law, Indigenous law, and human rights. Ms. Eberts received her legal education at Western University and the Harvard Law School. She has been a faculty member at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and held the Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights at the University of Ottawa. Before opening a specialized litigation practice in 1994, she was a partner at Torys in Toronto.

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Published
2016-07-13
Section
37.2 (1) - Canadian Women Challenge the Constitution: The Story Behind the Story