Women and Gender Equality Canada launches Call for Nominations for 2024 Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case

News release

March 26, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario — Women and Gender Equality Canada

Advancing gender equality brings many benefits, for both individuals and Canadian society. When women, girls, and gender-diverse people are empowered and have equal access to opportunities in education, employment, and leadership positions, economies thrive. Recognizing those who are actively contributing to gender equality not only honours their achievements, but also inspires others to build a more inclusive and equal future.

Today, Women and Gender Equality Canada is calling for nominations for the 2024 Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case. These awards celebrate individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of gender equality in Canada.

Gender Equality – it is the foundation from which everyone can lead healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives, serving as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth. When everyone has equal opportunities to participate in the economy, it leads to increased productivity and innovation, fostering a more inclusive society.

In previous years, award recipients have been recognized for their work across various fields. Among them are individuals like 2023 youth recipient Aditi Sivakumar, a medical student, philanthropist, and women's rights advocate who created "My Empowerment Platform", a website offering a wide range of tools and information on gender-based violence. And like Marlene Catterall, a community activist and former politician who was the first woman in Canada to be appointed as Chief Government Whip. Their achievements, along with those of many others, will inspire future generations to continue to move the needle of progress forward.

The submission deadline for the 2024 awards is July 1, 2024. To nominate a deserving individual, please visit WAGE’s website.   

Quick facts

  • The Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case mark the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal. This milestone victory gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life.

  • A video entitled “Women. Are. Persons.” describes the Famous Five and the Persons Case, which opened the door for women to participate more fully in all aspects of Canadian life.

  • Over 200 people from coast to coast to coast have received the award since its creation in 1979.

  • Women’s wages have grown steadily since the 1990s, but disparities persist. In 2023, women in Canada earned 88 cents for every dollar earned by men, suggesting a gap of 12%. 

  • In 2020, only 16.8% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses were owned by women, and were more likely to operate in young, small, low-growth and underfinanced sectors, such as retail trade, and other service sectors. These factors make it harder for women to access financing.

  • Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. In 2023, women accounted for only 30% of those employed in legislative and senior management positions.

  • While progress has been achieved, with many women holding key federal cabinet positions, women remain underrepresented in politics. In 2024, women represent just over 30% of seats in the House of Commons, and of the 13 provincial and territorial premiers in Canada, only one is a woman. 

  • McKinsey Global Institute estimates that achieving gender equality around the world could increase global GDP by $12 trillion over 10 years. 

Associated links


Nanki Singh
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

Media Relations
Women and Gender Equality Canada

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