By 1980, women could be members of parliament (MPs), ministers, television hosts or heads of companies. Women’s role in Quebec society had changed a lot since 1905. This change was in large part a result of the feminist movement which helped to change attitudes. The following are some of the women who took steps that helped move women’s liberation forward.

Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain (1924 – )

Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, a Montreal lawyer, ran as a candidate for the Quebec Liberal Party in 1961. She won her seat and became the first woman elected to Quebec’s National Assembly. As soon as she took office, she was named as the minister in charge of Law 16, a law granting legal status to married women. Thanks to this law, women were no longer considered miners.

Lise Payette (1931 – )

Lise Payette, television personality and journalist, became well-known between 1960 and 1970 when she hosted the television variety show Appelez-moi Lise show and another show Place aux femmes, which dealt with the concerns of women. She quickly became a symbol for the Quebec feminist movement. In 1976, she was elected as a member of the Parti Québécois and named Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. As soon as she was elected, she insisted that she be addressed as “la ministre” and not “le ministre”, as had been the case for female ministers before her.

A movement

Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain and Lise Payette truly represent the feminist movement between 1960 and 1970. Through their actions and their determination, they were able to assert the role of women in Quebec society by themselves occupying positions and taking on roles traditionally assumed by men. Claims for feminism were made not only by women like them but also by a large number of Quebec women.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix