Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science


Political Science, General.


Boase, J.




With the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, came a new era in Canadian constitutional politics. The Charter empowered various organized interests in Canadian society by granting fundamental rights to a number of groups. Given that historically, women have experienced discrimination by the courts, political institutions and decision makers, the combination of sections 15 and 28 of the Charter were considered by many as a victory for women's equality. For women's groups in English Canada the Meech Lake Accord in 1987 represented a serious threat to these equality provisions. Women's groups became divided over the "distinct society" provision of the Meech Lake Accord. Perhaps the greatest rift which developed in the women's movement was that between women's groups in English Canada and in Quebec. As the constitutional amending process continued with the Charlottetown Accord, it became increasingly evident that the interests of women's groups were diverse, and that women's groups desired a formal role in the amending of the constitution. By examining the actions of various women's groups it is possible to understand why there is no monolithic women's movement in Canada--nor should there be. Indeed women's groups and the women they represent are diverse and divided along many lines including race and region. The problem for Canadian women's groups today is that they seek to represent a sector of the population rather than a special area. In doing so, their structures compete directly with the Parliamentary system which is based on geographic representation. While Canadian women have had their concerns advanced through interest groups, in order for women to continue to influence the state, the movement must focus on commonalities and shared experience. Chapter one provides a historical background of women's relationship to the constitution, and argues that this experience has been one of discriminatory treatment. Chapter two looks at current constitutional theory and introduces the literature by feminist scholars who identify women's relationship to the state as being different to that of men. Chapter three compares the lobby by women's groups in 1987 and 1992, and makes the case that women's groups were marginally more successful in influencing the government in 1992 primarily due to public support and that of the Native Women's Association. Chapter four concludes the paper by acknowledging that there does not exist a monolithic women's movement in Canada. It is important however for women's groups to reach consensus on some issues in order to reshape and redefine the present movement in Canada which is currently still recovering from the divisive rounds in 1987 and 1992.Dept. of History, Philosophy, and Political Science. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1993 .Z84. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 32-06, page: 1560. Adviser: Joan Boase. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1993.