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Milestones in Canadian Women's History: the 1960s

    bullet The Committee for the Equality of Women in Canada (CEWC) is founded in Toronto to "pursue the rights of women in Canada." The Committee immediately begins a campaign for a Royal Commission on the Status of Women.
    bullet Called together by Thérèse Casgrain, a leader in the suffrage movement in the 1930s and 1940s, representatives of women's groups in Quebec come together to form a new coalition, the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ).
    bullet The Cercles d'économie domestique and the Union catholique des femmes rurales merge to form the Association féminine d'éducadon et d'action sociale (AFEAS). In contrast to the more urban FFQ, they focus on rural women, and later on women in the home.

    bullet CEWC founder Laura Sabia threatens a march of 3,000,000 women to Ottawa if a Royal Commission is not established to inquire into the status of women in Canada. Sabia later admits that "I don't think I could have gotten three women then."
    bullet A Royal Commission on the Status of Women (RCSW) is established by the Liberal government of Lester Pearson. The seven-member Commission, five of whose members are women, is chaired by former journalist Florence Bird. The Commission holds hearings in 14 communities in all ten provinces, meets 890 witnesses, and receives 468 briefs and 1,000 letters.
    bullet The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is adopted.

    bullet The Divorce Act, Canada's first unified divorce law is passed, making divorce easier to obtain. It is now possible to obtain a divorce after a three-year separation.
    bullet The McGill Student Society publishes The Birth Control Handbook, though the distribution of information on birth control is illegal in Canada. It goes on to become an underground bestseller and is later translated into French.
    bullet Birthright, Canada's first active anti-abortion group, is founded.

    bullet The House of Commons passes an Omnibus Bill covering abortion, birth control, homo-sexuality. Abortion becomes legal if performed by a doctor in an accredited or approved hospital, and with the agreement of a therapeutic abortion committee (TAC). The TAC must certify that "the continuation of the pregnancy of such female person would or would be likely to endanger her life or health." The dissemination of birth control information is decriminalized, as are homosexual acts between consenting adults. "The state," said Pierre Trudeau, author of the legislation, "has no place in the bedrooms of the nation."


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