Voting Rights for Women: Wartime Politics Expands the Franchise to Women

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

Voting time at the Canadian hospital, Orpington, December 1917: George Metcalf Archival Collection Canadian War Museum 19930003-568

A woman’s right to vote was one of the key societal changes brought about by the First World War.

Women participated in the war in a variety of ways, yet they could not vote.

This changed in 1917. In an effort to increase support for wartime conscription, women whose husband, father or son was serving in the armed forces were given the right to vote in the federal election. As intended, most of them backed the government, and conscription became law.

The vote was extended to most other women in 1919. Although voting rights were more the result of a wartime political agenda than the recognition of the rights and responsibilities of Canadian women, they were an important early step towards full and equal rights for women.

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Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history and one of the world’s most respected museums for the study and understanding of armed conflict.

The Museum traces its origins back to 1880, when it consisted primarily of a collection of militia artifacts. The Museum opened at its new location on the LeBreton Flats site in downtown Ottawa on May 8, 2005. Its opening not only marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe (V-E Day) but also the 125th anniversary of the Museum itself. Since its opening in 2005, the Museum has welcomed approximately 500,000 visitors every year.