Women’s equality rights times three

This paper explores three concepts – federalism, gender and diversity – that might frame the campaigns to constitutionalize women’s equality rights in Canada. Organized women participated in three such campaigns between 1980 and 2008. The campaigns ended with three virtually identical declarations of equality, one each in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution Act 1982 and the Quebec Charter of human rights and freedoms. However the women’s campaigns that produced them are distinguishable. On the one hand, different women’s organizations – national, indigenous and Quebec – took primary responsibility for each campaign. On the other hand, these women’s organizations singled out different entities – national, indigenous and multicultural – that opposed their equality-seeking. The puzzle I identify is how to conceptualize diversity – indigenous and multicultural – in this context which is conventionally framed by the concepts of federalism and gender.