Constitute! The Film

Produced by the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP).

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Story of Sections 15 and 28

Constitute! tells the story of the largest social mobilization of women in Canadian history in the 20th century. Led by the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution, women and other activists across the country fought to gain stronger equality provisions were entrenched in the newly repatriated Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 15 and 28). The film celebrates their constitutional activism and passion for democratic renewal. Constitute! educates and informs about how important citizen engagement is for democracy in Canada and beyond. Interviews, speeches, songs, debates and images tells the story of what happened on that cold Valentine’s Day in 1981 and what it means to future generations of young Canadians.

The Struggle Continues

The courageous democratic activism by women from Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Africa is also portrayed, highlighting the global nature of women’s equality struggles. In other clips, the next generation of activists discusses the ongoing struggle for equality, pointing out some of the wins and losses of the Canadian women’s movement. The need for intersectionality, and the continuing struggle against discrimination against Aboriginal women and racialized women shows that we still have a long way to go to achieve equality for all.

Equality In the Law Today

Section 15 did not come into effect until April 17, 1985, 3 years after the rest of the Charter! Many women’s equality cases have been taken to court since that time, most of them by feminist organizations, including the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). To read about 25 years of women’s equality cases, click here for pdf