In 1927 five women brought a case to the Supreme Court of Canada to establish the right of women to be appointed to the Senate. These women were Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, and Irene Parlby. At the time women were not legally recognized as “persons” and could be denied rights based on narrow interpretations of the law. In fact, while some women in Canada gained the right to vote in 1916, many women — particularly women of colour — did not. By 1960, all women in Canada won the right to vote.
In recognition of the “Famous Five” bringing this case to the SCC, we wanted to highlight this breathtaking article written by the one and only Rebecca Fisseha, author of Daughters of Silence.
“Incrementally, I also began disclosing that I am a survivor to people in my innermost circle of chosen and blood family. And what do you know, the world did not split open! At least not in the way I had initially imagined. Perhaps because of my own predisposition to doom and gloom, I had interpreted Rukeyser’s line the world would split open as a disaster scenario. But now I realize how flexible that line is.
"The world could split open like a flower in bloom, like a woman shattering the glass that had separated her from true connection. Like the global event that became multitudes of habesha women finally telling their stories online, which resulted in the creation of #metooethiopia, adding its support to the Yellow Movement and Setaweet, pre-existing, homegrown feminist groups in Ethiopia.
"All that, just from several hundred habesha women telling their stories anonymously. I wonder what would happen if they, and others, shed their anonymity. Is that not the final, hardest step towards fully regaining one’s voice? If they felt that they could share their stories as openly as survivors of any other kind of life-threatening event. Exactly whose world would split open then? Who should really be afraid?”
Read the full article on LitHub.
Rebecca Fisseha is the author of Daughters of Silence, chosen by CBC Books and 49th Shelf as one of the most anticipated books of fiction of the year and by Quill and Quire as one of the Best Books for 2019. Fisseha's stories, personal essays, and articles explore the unique and universal aspects of the Ethiopian diaspora and have appeared in literary journals and anthologies such as Room Magazine, Joyland, Lithub, Zora, and Addis Ababa Noir. Born in Addis Ababa, Fisseha now lives in Toronto.