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What was the political and legal status of women in United Canada and what was their role in society?
Explanation from Alloprof
This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.
In the 19th century, the place of women in society was very limited. In fact, they even lost rights between 1791 and 1850. The Constitutional Act of 1791 mentioned that all owners had the right to vote. Some women were owners and therefore had the right to vote. Yet it was not a right that had been given to them deliberately. So when the political authorities realized that some women had the right to vote with the constitution, they amended the article of law to take away this right. In 1849, we therefore replaced any "person" owner by all the "male" owners.
Moreover, from a legal point of view, women were considered to be children in the eyes of the law, that is to say that they had no rights. They were either under the responsibility and authority of their father, or under that of their husband. They were not allowed to have a bank account in their name, could not sue someone and could not even be responsible, on their own, for minor children (themselves considered children by law).
They also did not have access to higher education. Their employment possibilities were therefore limited to the positions of secretary, assistant or even factory worker. Others turned to teaching or sales. Finally, those who stayed at home sometimes tried to make a little money by doing odd jobs like ironing or sewing.
Some women decided to join religious communities. They then renounce their right to marry, but can thus participate in public life and have the opportunity to obtain higher positions such as that of school principal or certain administrative positions.
Quietly, women began to come together and form associations to assert some of their rights such as the right to vote, access to higher education, improvement of working conditions and social health and struggle services against poverty. This is the beginning of feminism, mainly founded by middle-class English-speaking women!
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