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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Women — Finding & Evaluating

Women in Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics: Finding & Evaluating Substantive Information

The tips and general sources for contemporary Canadian government and politics covered in the main portion of this guide should also be used for this topic. The following are more specialized sources and tips for finding more information on the topic of women in contemporary government and politics.

Finding Sources

Core Journals:
The following are journals which, in addition to the list in the main part of this guide, are likely to include articles on women in contemporary Canadian government and politics:

Atlantis: A Women's Studies Journal/Revue d'études sur les femmes. Halifax: Institute for the Study of Women, Mount Saint Vincent University, 1975 - . Semiannual. ISSN: 0702–7818.

Description: An interdisciplinary journal with occasional articles on political issues.
Indexed in: ABC pol sci, Alternative Press index, America: History and Life, Canadian Magazine Index, Canadian Periodical Index, Studies on Women Abstracts, Women's Studies Abstracts, etc.

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985 - . Biannual. ISSN: 0713–3235; eISSN: 1911-0235.

Description: Publishes peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary scholarship in women's legal studies.
Indexed in: Academic Search, Business Source, CBCA, Canadian Periodical Index, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Project Muse, Scopus, Women's Studies Index, etc.

Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme. Toronto: Inanna Publications and Education Inc, York University, 1978 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 0713–3235.

Description: This is a bilingual, interdisciplinary, refereed journal with each issue devoted to a specific theme (e.g. National Identity and Gender Politics, Eradicating Poverty and Violence, Lesbians and Politics, etc.)
Indexed in: Canadian Periodical Index, Women's Studies Index, etc.

International Feminist Journal of Politics. London: Routledge, 1999 - . Quarterly to 2018, 5x/year 2019 - . ISSN (print): 1461-6742, (online): 1468-4470.

Description: A peer-reviewed, cross-cultural and international journal covering international relations, politics and women's studies. Articles feature research on women, gender relations, sexuality from several perspectives including comparative politics, political theory, international relations, globalization studies, political economy, development studies, etc.
Includes: Conference reports, interviews and book reviews.
Indexed in: Taylor & Francis.

Journal of Women, Politics & Policy. (Formerly Women and Politics). New York: Haworth Press, 1980 - . Quarterly. ISSN (1980-2004): 0195-7732. ISSN (2005 - ): 1554-477X. Online: 1554-4788.

Description: A well-regarded journal of research and policy studies. Articles cover issues pertaining to women and government and politics, especially social and public policy issues in the U.S. and internationally.
Indexed in: ABC poli sci, Academic Index, Academic Search Elite, America: History and Life, Contemporary Women's Issues, GenderWatch, Historical Abstracts, PAIS, ProQuest, Social Science Index, Social Science Citation Index, Sociological Abstracts,  Women's Resources International, Women's Studies Index, etc.
Includes: Bibliographies and book reviews.
Tips: Not a lot of Canadian content, but an excellent journal for research on the broader issues.

Politics & Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 1743-923X (Print), 1743-9248 (Online).

Description: Peer-reviewed journal of the American Political Science Association, Women and Politics Research Section. Publishes scholarly articles on gender and politics and women and politics.
Indexed in: ProQuest Central and Political Science Database, socINDEX, International Political Science Abstracts, GenderWatch, Sociological Abstracts, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, CSA Worldwide Poltiical Science Abstracts, etc.
Includes: Book reviews.

Resources for Feminist Research / Documentation sur la recherche feministe (RFR/DRF). Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 1972 - . Semi-annual. ISSN: 0707–8412.

Description: Covers all topics including politics.
Indexed in: Canadian Feminist Periodicals Index, Canadian Periodical Index, Canadian Magazine Index, CBCA Fulltext, Canadian Education Index, Women's Studies Abstracts, America: History and Life, Left Index, Sociological Abstracts, etc.
Includes: Book reviews.
Tips: Annual Index volume provides author and subject access.
Highly recommended.

Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society. Oxford University Press. 1994 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 1072-4745; e-ISSN: 1468-2893.

Description: An interdisciplinary, international journal; examines political systems and cultural institutions through the lens of gender.
Indexed in: CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, Historical Abstracts, IBSS, PAIS, ProQuest Central, Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus, Sociological Abstracts, etc.

Women's Studies International Forum. (Formerly Women's Studies International Quarterly.) New York: Pergamon, 1982 - . Bi-monthly. ISSN: 0277-5395.

Description: Multidisciplinary and international in scope, articles cover feminist research in women's studies and other disciplines.
Indexed in: America: History and Life, Historical Abstracts, International Labour Documentation, Psychological Abstracts, ScienceDirect.

Indexes and Databases:

Indexes and databases useful for finding articles on Canadian government and politics in general are listed in the main section of this guide. The following is a select list in the field of women's studies chosen for their coverage of journals on government and political studies, or journals which include research articles on these topics:

Canadian Feminist Periodical Index, 1972-1985. Compiled by the Canadian Women's Indexing Group (CWIG). Toronto: OISE Press, 1991. 1070 p.

Description:This is a single-volume index covering 15 Canadian feminist periodicals.
Coverage: 1972-1985.

Canadian Women's Periodicals Index. Ottawa: Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, 1984/85 – 1993/94. Quarterly. ISSN: 0847-2882.

Description: Indexes major French and English-language academic journals and popular magazines.
Coverage: 1984 - 1994.
Tips: Uses keywords out of context format.

Contemporary Women's Issues. Gale Research. 1992 - . Online database available by subscription.

Description: Index and full-text database of over 1,500 English-language sources on women and gender-related issues.
Coverage: Includes over 150 journals, many small press publications, newsletters, reports and other materials from 1992 to the present.
Tips: Can limit searches by "Geo-Region": Canada.

Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents. University of Wisconsin, Office of the Gender & Women's Studies Librarian. ISSN 1941-725X.

Description: An open access repository of digitized contents pages of 150 academic journals and pop culture magazines in the field of Gender and Women's Studies. 
Coverage:  Updated quarterly.
Tips: Searchable by keyword; click on the title to see the table of contents

Women's Studies Index.  G.K. Hall. 1991-1998; Gale: 1999-2002.

Description: One of the major indexes for the time, indexing the main articles in approximately 80 journals and magazines. 
Coverage: Updated annually.

Women's Studies International. Baltimore, MD: National Information Services Corp., 1972 - . Semi-annual. (Formerly Women's Resources International.) Online by subscription.

Description: A bibliographic database made up of 10 smaller ones, including Women's Studies Abstracts, New Books on Women and Feminism, etc.
Coverage: Indexes over 500 academic, popular and grassroots periodicals, as well as books, dissertations and reports.
Tips: Searches can be limited by Canada as geographic area.

Books and other Academic Work:

To find books, theses, conference papers, and publications by research institutes, women's organizations, and others, use library catalogues. Additional sources listed below.

Useful LC Subject Headings: 

women in politics — Canada
women legislators — Canada
women legislators — Canada — biography
women political candidates — Canada
women politicians — Canada
[name of politician]
women's rights — Canada
women — legal status, laws, etc. — Canada
women — political activity — Canada
women in public life
women in the civil service — Canada

Conference Papers:

Besides the papers published from the Canadian Political Science Association conferences, many women's groups, universities, research institutes and others periodically organize conferences from which the presentations are published. To find these, search your library catalogue or the union catalogue Voilà with the appropriate subject heading and the sub-heading "congresses" (e.g. women in politics -- Canada -- congresses).

Canadian government-sponsored conferences include the annual federal-provincial-territorial conferences of Ministers responsible for women's issues (begun in 1982), from which "public documents" are sometimes made available, the Advisory Councils and Status of Women Canada also sponsor conferences occasionally, as can Royal Commissions and other fact-finding task forces. An example:

Proceedings of a Symposium on the Active Participation of Women in Politics. Ottawa: Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, 1990. 446 p.


Many excellent theses have been written in Canadian universities on the topic of women in politics. Search the Theses Canada Portal for these. Library and Archives Canada maintains a collection of every M.A. and PhD thesis written at Canadian universities. Where a link to an online thesis is not available, and for print theses, request an inter-library loan through your library.  Most universities also maintain a collection of the electronic theses written at their institution. Some are accessible through their institutional repositories.

Research Reports:

See the "Research Organizations" tab for examples of women's groups and other organizations that publish research on this topic.

Current Events / News:

See the websites of the government departments involved with women's issues, advisory councils, women's groups and research organizations and look for "What's New", press releases, media rooms, newsletters, events calendars, and contact information. You may also be able to subscribe to an emailed version of their newsletters or press releases. For example, the former New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women had an excellent newsletter available by email subscription: NB Women's News which provided alerts to upcoming events, information on recent actions, and news items of interest to New Brunswick women.

Government Information:
There has been a federal Cabinet Minister responsible for the Status of Women since 1971. Status of Women Canada, a federal departmental agency from 1976 - 2018 was responsible for promoting gender equality and the full participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country. In Dec. 2018 new legislation created the official government department: Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), with the mandate to advance gender equality and to promote the inclusion of all people in Canada's economic, social, and political life (SWC/WAGE homepage March 2021). 

The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, created in 1973 to advise government on women's issues, was disbanded in 1995. Every province and territory in Canada has a Minister responsible for women's issues, and some have had an Advisory Council, although only a few remain (e.g. in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador). The Advisory Councils are usually independent but report to government.

The government departments, branches or directorates responsible for women's issues in the provinces and territories may change over the years. (Federally, you can see the Ministers responsible for the Status of Women since 1976 and the opposition critics at the Parliament of Canada, Parlinfo site's Departments and Roles: 1867 to Today. Besides their Annual Report to Parliament, Estimates, Budget Priorities and other reports on their operations, some of these government bodies and Advisory Councils have published excellent research reports and other important documents. Selected recent ones published by the currently existing bodies will be available on their websites. Check your library catalogue, the union catalogue Voilà, or a large provincial research or legislative library for the documents created in earlier years. Some examples of these are given in the Primary Sources - What was Written section.

Collections of links to the websites of federal, provincial and territorial advisory councils and women's departments:

Directory of Organizations for Women. By the Manitoba Status of Women.

Links to provincial and territorial advisory councils and government offices responsible for the status of women, Manitoba provincial, and national and international women's organizations.


Briefs to Committees: One of the important ways in which advisory councils on the status of women (and women's groups in general) advise and lobby government is to submit briefs to government committees, advising them on the impact of proposed legislation on women. These briefs or reports may be found as publications by the authoring group, or as part of the "Evidence" of parliamentary committees. 

See Primary Sources - What was Written for examples of some key government documents.

Political Party Information:

Some political parties have created task forces, formed committees, or otherwise have examined women's issues, or they have a women's organization within the party. To find any documents they may have produced search library catalogues by keyword combining the party name and "women".

See Selected Primary Sources for examples.

Research Organizations:
Besides the Advisory Councils mentioned under the "Government Information" tab, some research institutes, women's groups, and other organizations are also good sources for research on this topic. Some examples:


Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

An independent, non-partisan, non-profit research institute since 1980, concerned with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. Their numerous publications include alternative federal budgets, backgrounders, policy briefs, research reports and books. "Making Women Count" is one of their ongoing projects that measures the size of the gender gap and offers solutions. Some examples of their reports on this topic:

Unfinished Business: A Parallel Report on Canada's Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. (With a network of other groups), 2019, Updated June 2020.163 p.

Speaking Truth to Power: A Reader on Canadian Women's Inequality. Ed. by Trish Hennessy and Ed Finn. 2010. 126 p.

Where are the Women? Gender Equity, Budgets and Canadian Public Policy. By Isabella Bakker and Janine Brodie, 2008. 146 p.

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
This is a national, not-for-profit organization started in 1976 to nurture feminist research. They publish research tools and publications. Some examples:

Canadian Women in Politics: An Overview. By Janine Brodie and Jill McCalla Vickers. The CRIAW Papers no. 2. Ottawa, CRIAW, 1982. 60 p.

Canadian Women's Movement, Equality Rights and the Charter. By Lise Gotell. Feminist Perspectives no. 16. Ottawa: CRIAW, 1990. 57 p.

Final Report: Action on Systemic Barriers to Women's Participation in Local Government. By Halena Seiferling and Rebecca Bateman, June 2020, 136 p..

Getting Things Done: Women's Views of Their Involvement in Political Life. Edited by Jill Vickers. The CRIAW Papers no. 16/17. Ottawa: CRIAW and Unesco, Division of Human Rights and Peace, 1988. 59 p.

Women's Involvement in Political Life: A Pilot Study prepared for UNESCO, Division of Human Rights and Peace. The CRIAW Papers no. 16/17. Ottawa: CRIAW, 1987. 100 p. (Presents the results of a study based on interviews of women across the country on barriers to participation in political life.)

FAFIA-AFAI Canada (Feminist Alliance for International Action.)
An alliance of over 60 groups with the mandate to advance women's equality in Canada by making sure the international human rights agreements ratified by Canada are fully implemented. (Scroll down under the tabs to see the FAFIA reports:

Canada: Women's Civil and Political Rights: Report to the Human Rights Committee on the Occasion of the Committee's Consideration of the 6th Periodic Report of Canada. 2015. 98 p.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The FCM represents over 2,000 municipalities across Canada since 1901. The website's "Resources" section is extensive and can be limited by topic: "Women in Local Government". Resources include the Toward Parity Knowledge Hub: Resources for Equality in Representation in Municipal Politics with links to a wide range of research, ideas, projects, tools and best practices to promote and achieve parity in municipal representation.

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)

This is an Inter-Governmental Organization of which Canada is a member country. The "Women in Politics" section has links to relevant international treaties, conventions and declarations, information on voter turnout, gender quotas and other news, facts and information from around the world. A particularly useful publication examining the obstacles parliamentary election processes create for women and strategies to overcome them, is available here:
Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers, Revised Edition. Edited by Azza Karam and Julie Ballington. Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2005. 264 p.
Other publications:
Gender-Targeted Public Funding for Political Parties: A Comparative Analysis. By Magnus Ohman, 2018. 98 p.
Regional Organizations, Gender Equality and the Political Empowerment of Women. Co-Published with UNDP, 2017.186 p.

National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
A non-profit feminist organization since 1974 promoting women's equality through legal research, advocacy and public education. Their library includes over 300 reports, articles, letters, and briefs to government committees on the impact of laws and proposed legislation on women. Also available online is the bilingual course: Feminist Law Reform 101, with resources and tips on how to advance women's equality rights through law reform.

Native Women's Association of Canada.

A non-profit national Indigenous organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women. Fact sheets and other publications include:

A Culturally Relevant Gender-based Analysis. July 2020. 20 p.

Eliminating Discrimination under the Registration Provisions of the Indian Act: Culturally Appropriate Consultation with Indigenous Women: Summary Report on Consultation. 2018. 32 p.

Political Advocacy / Legislative Review. 2018. 2 p.

Voting Guide for Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQQIA Voters. 2019. 36 p.

Videos and Films:

National Film Board of Canada Catalogue.
The NFB online catalogue can be searched by keyword or browsed by subject. The "Politics" sub-section under the subject "Women Portraits" has over a dozen films on Canadian women. Other documentary films, such as Why Women Run can be found under the broader subject of "Politics and Government - Canada".

Through Her Eyes: Resources for Women's Studies. Edited by Marymay Downing. Ottawa: Carleton University, 1988. 6 vols.
This is a video catalogue. See Vol. 5: Women in Politics: Viewer's Guide to Videotapes for Module 3. Edited by Marymay Downing, Pauline Rankin and Marja Tenholder. Vol. 6: Women in Politics: Supplement to the Viewer's Guide for Module 3. Edited by Valerie J. Howe, Pauline Rankin and Marja Tenholder.

See Women — Primary Sources - Recorded Images for selected videos.

Evaluating Sources

Please refer to "Evaluating Information" in the main part of this guide.