Justin Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister, Is a Feminist Making a Difference
Plenty of people have threatened to move to Canada if the upcoming election doesn’t go their way, and there’s a pretty great leader running the show to our north: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The 44-year-old is the head of Canada's Liberal party, and he’s the second youngest PM to run the country. He just started the job last November, but he’s already made waves as a feminist leader.
He named his first cabinet in November, and it features an equal number of men and women — a first for the country — and also people who represent the ethnic diversity of Canada. When asked about the reason behind his gender-equal cabinet, his answer was simple and powerful: "Because it's 2015." Bloomberg pointed out that Obama’s 16-person first cabinet is only 25 percent women.
In December, he made news again, personally welcoming 163 Syrian refugees into the country as part of Canada’s program to welcome asylum seekers.
At this January’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trudeau spoke openly about being a feminist and why it’s important for men to get comfortable identifying as such. “We shouldn’t be afraid of the word feminist. Men and women should use it to describe themselves anytime they want,” he said at a discussion on gender parity.
Trudeau — who's a father to a young daughter and two sons — also talked about how his wife, Sophie, encouraged him to not just teach his daughter about feminism, but his sons, too. "That role we have as men in supporting and demanding equality and demanding a shift is really, really important," he said.
And it keeps getting better. On International Women’s Day — March 8 — the leader announced that an iconic Canadian women will be featured on the country’s next series of bank notes, expected in 2018. The country currently just has Queen Elizabeth—who’s not Canadian—on their $20 note.
And yesterday, while on a tour of the U.S., Trudeau spoke at the United Nations in NYC, further emphasizing the importance of gender equality and that it shouldn't even be a big deal that he calls himself a feminist. "I'm going to keep saying loud and clearly that I am a feminist until it is met with a shrug," he said during a panel for UN Women. "It's just really, really obvious that we should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies."
He’s right. If more world leaders — male and female — stepped up and declared themselves feminists and dedicated themselves to gender equality like Trudeau, his declaration would just be expected, not exceptional.
Wednesday evening, the nonprofit Catalyst — which works to accelerate women in the workplace — gave him a special commendation at their annual awards dinner for his work in empowering women. Trudeau spoke at the event, explaining there’s still much more to be done.
"If anyone you challenge to step up and do more on gender equality dares tell you: 'We've come such a long way, I don’t think there’s that much left to do’ just tell them to ask any woman they know," Trudeau said to the crowd at the Waldorf Astoria.
It's refreshing to see a leader so passionate about gender equality and expect and encourage the same from other leaders and citizens, too. Some reporters have even said that, with Obama heading out of office, Trudeau is the next leader to take his spotlight on the world’s stage. The two met up in Washington, D.C. earlier this month for a star-studded state dinner at the White House.
Trudeau is definitely one to watch — especially when he’s cuddling newborn pandas at the Toronto Zoo. Feel free to make the below photo your background on all tech devices.
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Photo Credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images