Legal Instruments of Equality for Women

A number of legal instruments exist in Canada for equality for women. At the federal level, the following apply:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides the constitutional protection of individual human rights. The Charter applies to relationships between an individual and government, while relationships between individuals are covered in certain areas by the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and provincial and territorial human rights legislation.

Section 15 of the Charter ensures the equal protection and equal benefit of the law "without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability." Court decisions have expanded this list to prohibit discrimination on other grounds, such as citizenship, marital status and sexual orientation, and have recognized that multiple grounds of discrimination may intersect in particular cases. Section 28 guarantees that all rights covered in the Charter apply equally to men and women.

The CHRA, 1977, states that all Canadians have the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment, and an environment free of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, marital status and family status, in employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation within federal jurisdiction. The CHRAcreated the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate and settle complaints of discrimination, and refer them to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for adjudication.

The following legislative acts might also be of particular interest to women and equality rights:

For more information about the history of women's rights, please visit the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

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