Royal Commission on the Status of Women

Florence Bird Elsie MacGill Canada

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women was a Canadian Royal Commission that examined the status of women and recommended steps that might be taken by the federal government to ensure equal opportunities with men and women in all aspects of Canadian society. The Commission commenced on 16 February 1967 as an initiative of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Public sessions were conducted the following year to accept public comment for the Commission to consider as it formulated its recommendations. Florence Bird was the Commission's chair.

In Canada, 32 women’s groups had formed. As a result, Lester B. Pearson created the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission was created to ensure equality for women, and was the first Commission to be chaired by women. The Commission wrote reports to the government about issues regarding pay, child care, birth control and education. The government responded to these issues by creating the Status of Women in 1971 to inform the public about these issues.[1][2][3][better source needed]

Women Associated with the Royal Commission

Lester B. Pearson established the Royal Commission on the Status of Women because of the discrimination towards women and different genders. Florence Bayard Bird was associated with the Canadian Senate in 1978 and was part of the Royal Commission in 1967.[4] Since she was part of the Royal Commission’s chair, she was given thousands of letters from public hearings concerning women’s rights. The arguments in the letters from common people mostly stated that men and women were seen as equal, but they were not in many ways. The main argument Bird covered was inequality pay. Women were earning half of what men earned for the same job. Bird’s commission also fought for their right to abortion and birth control access.[5]

Elsie MacGill, Queen of the Hurricanes, was one of Canada’s top aeronautical engineers, which is a field typically dominated by men. She was known for being an “engineer” instead of a “woman engineer” that reinforced her feminism. After being involved in the Second World War, she was involved in the Royal Commission on the Status of Women alongside Bird in 1967. Because of her workforce experience, she advocated for women in the workforce. MacGill was heavily involved with women being paid for maternity leave. As a liberal feminist, MacGill believed that women should also have full control over their bodies, and should have the right to abort, much like Bird.[6]

Azilda Lapierre Marchand prepared a report on behalf of the Women's Association for Education and Social Action (French: L'Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale (AFÉAS)) evaluating the invisibility of women's work. She argued that their unpaid labor as homemakers and workers in family enterprises was undervalued and ignored by society.[7][8][9]


The Commission discovered that:

In 1970 a report came out with 167 recommendations to ensure that men and women had equal opportunities. Some recommendations were:

As a result, the Commission helped establish an agenda of reform for women's-rights groups in the 1970s.


The Commissioners appointed were:

See also


  1. ^ MacDonald, Emily. "The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada". Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. 19: 384 – via Ebscohost.
  2. ^ Morris, Cerise. "Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  3. ^ "Royal Commission on Status of Women". Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  4. ^ "Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  5. ^ populaire, Musée québécois de culture. "The Bird Commission on the Status of the Canadian Woman - The Beginning of a New Era". Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  6. ^ Sissons, Crystal. "Elsie MacGill". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  7. ^ Bachand, Gilles (June 2010). "Azilda Marchand (1918-2010)" (PDF). Le Gardangeois (in French). Ange-Gardien, Quebec: Municipalit é de Ange-Gardien: 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  8. ^ Backhouse, Constance; Flaherty, David H. (1992). Challenging Times: The Women's Movement in Canada and the United States. Quebec City, Quebec: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-0-7735-6342-1.
  9. ^ Dumont, Micheline (13 October 2016). "L'AFEAS a 50 ans" [AFEAS is 50 years old]. Le Devoir (in French). Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.