Edwards v A-G of Canada (1930)

Colour photo of the statute of two women who challenged the women are persons law in Canada

Statue of Nellie McClung holding Women Are Persons paper

The Famous Five, Nellie McClung statue by Douglas Sprott [CC BY-NC 2.0(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)]

Parliament first granted some women a vote in some elections in 1869. It took a further 60 years before women were granted the vote on the same basis as men. Similarly, the argument that women were persons, just as much as men, were first made in the courts in 1868, and once again it took a further 60 years for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Edwards v Attorney General of Canada to agree.

Edwards is the last of the so-called ‘persons’ cases. In these women argued, that they, like men, were persons and therefore entitled to the same rights as men. In Edwards the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council agreed.

‘During those sixty years various women’s campaign groups protested; lobbied politicians to introduce legislation; brought legal challenges and organised themselves to fight for greater equality … The persons cases demonstrate how women needed to adopt all three forms of action’.

Sarah Mercer

Black and white photo of Unveiling Plaque to Valiant Five with five women and one man in front of the plaque

Unveiling Plaque to Valiant Five by Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King by Eugene M Finn (11 June 1938, no. 3535150) from Library and Archives Canada

The full version of this landmark was written by Sarah Mercer.


Learn More

Famou5 Foundation, ‘The Famous Five: The Women’ http://www.famou5.ca/the-famous-five-women/

First Women in Canadian Politics http://herstory-canada.tumblr.com

Historica Canada, ‘Persons Case’ http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/persons-case/