Histories of Women’s Activism in Western Canada
Edited by Sarah Carter and Nanci Langford.
Compelled to Act showcases fresh historical perspectives on the diversity of women’s contributions to social and political change in prairie Canada in the twentieth century, including but looking beyond the era of suffrage activism. In our current time of revitalized activism against racism, colonialism, violence, and misogyny, this volume reminds us of the myriad ways women have challenged and confronted injustices and inequalities.
The women and their activities shared in Compelled to Act are diverse in time, place, and purpose, but there are some common threads. In their attempts to correct wrongs, achieve just solutions, and create change, women experienced multiple sites of resistance, both formal and informal. The acts of speaking out, of organizing, of picketing and protesting were characterized as unnatural for women, as violations of gender and societal norms, and as dangerous to the state and to family stability.
Still as these accounts demonstrate, prairie women felt compelled to respond to women’s needs, to challenges to family security, both health and economic, and to the need for community. They reacted with the resources at hand, and beyond, to support effective action, joining the ranks of women all over the world seeking political and social agency to create a society more responsive to the needs of women and their children.