Votes for Women — 100 years

An op-ed piece by Kelly Regan, Minister Responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Today, April 26, marks 100 years since some women could first vote in Nova Scotia. So, this is a good day for all Nova Scotians to reflect on what it means to have the right to vote. Many hard-working women in this province made their voices heard, so all women could have a voice in choosing our political representatives.

A province where women are safe and economically secure is a province that thrives.

Over the last four years, we’ve seen more women in cabinet, and Nova Scotia has achieved gender parity on the provincial and family courts. Women leaders worked hard to improve opportunities for women, and we will continue working toward gender equality for all Nova Scotian women and girls.

I’m encouraged by the unprecedented interest in the upcoming Campaign School for Women, which will take place in late May. We have received more than 160 applications to this year’s program. It’s the most interest we’ve ever seen, and I think the response shows how much women in Nova Scotia aspire to leadership. The Campaign School works to break down the barriers that women face in the pursuit of political leadership roles, and to increase the diversity of women in politics. I’m looking forward to an inspiring weekend.

As we look back at the leadership of the women who first voted in the 1918 election, let’s also think of the many Nova Scotian women who weren’t included in the new enfranchisement. The work for full equality in voting rights continued for many more years. It wasn’t until 1960 that Indigenous women and men obtained the right to vote in all elections — and it wasn’t until 1982 that the right to vote was guaranteed for all citizens over the age of 18 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To commemorate the milestones that led to this centenary, and to pay tribute to the women leaders who came before that, the Status of Women office worked with the Nova Scotia Archives to create the infographic, Votes for Women — Leaders in Action: A Nova Scotia Story. This timeline illustration offers a glimpse of the long journey toward equality.

I invite all Nova Scotians to share the infographic with your friends and partners — including young women who someday become leaders in our province.

We still have work to do, and it is my hope the women leaders of our past and present can inspire future women leaders to achieve great things on the road to gender equality.

Kelly Regan, Minister Responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women