Today in World History: August 27th

The Famous Five, a group of five Canadian women who helped to establish the rights for females to hold seats in the Senate of Canada, addressed their famous petition to the Supreme Court of Canada on this day in 1927. In their petition, they asked the court, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” and were answered half a year later with, with the Supreme Court rejecting their petition. The five women who filed the petition, Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, all major female politicians and activists, with Emily Murphy being the first female judge in the British Empire, and Parlby, McClung, and McKinney all being members of Alberta’s government. By 1929, the British Empire, which still held a large amount of influence over Canadian laws and foreign policies, overruled the Supreme Court’s decision, and four months later, the first female senator was appointed. Although none of the Famous Five became senators, they were appointed “honorary senators” in October of 2009. Their petition came nine years after the Americans’ decision to allow women to vote, and at the time of the petition, which was more about overall equality for women rather than the position of senator, women were allowed to vote in many provinces in Canada.

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