Justin Trudeau is a proud feminist.
And it’s about time all of us are.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau published a letter this morning in the Globe and Mail as part of its “Work in Progress” series that looks at the global struggle for gender parity.
“We have seen great advancements in Canada over the past hundred years, and I am proud to celebrate the strides we have taken toward gender equality. But there is still a lot of hard work left to do to advance these issues. Quite simply, we must do more,” writes Trudeau.
He credits his parents for his own identity as a “proud feminist,” and states that he and his wife Sophie are raising their children with the same values. In one of the most resonating parts, he says that we should not be afraid of the word feminism. Admittedly, the word still conjures up stereotypical images of angry, man-hating, family-bashing, erratic females for some people. I’ve seen the negative stereotypes surface in recent conversations with both men and women.
But, as Trudeau highlights, feminism is about “equal rights and opportunities for men and women, about everyone having the same choices without facing discrimination based on gender. Equality is not a threat, it is an opportunity.” Amen.
Subsequently, he says that we must not fear equality. “It is an essential part of any society that wants to be a leader in sustainable development, clean economic growth, social justice, peace and security,” writes Trudeau.
He goes on to acknowledge that, sadly, gender discrimination and violence remain commonplace around the world.
“Far too many women and girls are still denied an education, forced into early marriage or compensated at a much lower rate than their male colleagues. The rates of gender-based violence against women – as well as men – are staggering. This violence can destroy the lives of individuals, as well as communities,” says Trudeau.
But that’s not to say that gender discrimination isn’t still a daily issue in our home and native land and other Western nations.
“Misogyny can creep into words, jokes and the media. We need to be conscientious and vigilant to stop it in all aspects of our society. We, men and women, need to be willing to stand up against sexism when it crosses our path in any form,” writes Trudeau.
He acknowledges the international attention Canada received back in November when he named a cabinet with an equal number of men and women (accompanied by the simple reasoning “because it’s 2015”) and his hope that it will set an example across the board “from national governments all the way to student body governments in schools.” Helping that cause, not long after his win Trudeau was added to Forbes‘ list of the most influential people in the world.
“Female leaders – including those women I am proud to sit with in the cabinet and in Parliament – help diminish barriers by providing other women and girls with visible role models,” writes Trudeau. In acknowledging that females belong “at the management table, the corporate board, the science lab, or running large tech and engineering firms,” Trudeau states that we still need to place a strong value and importance on the work done in the home in raising families, despite the “judgement and discrimination” for opting to do so instead of remaining in the workforce faced by both sexes.
Speaking of both sexes, the men play just as important of a role as females do in shaping cultural change and acting as role models, as Trudeau highlights. For that reason, we need to spend as much time with little boys, educating them on female empowerment and on the importance of gender equality.
“Men have a key role to play in demanding and supporting this societal shift. We need to be a part of the conversation. We need to speak out in support of gender equality. We need to be comfortable identifying ourselves as feminists,” he says. And it’s true.
Trudeau ends off with some empowering words for both men, women, and society in general:
“It is time for each of us to take action in our personal and our professional lives to advance equal rights and opportunities for women and men. It is time for the full and equal participation of women in our social, political and economic worlds to be the norm, not the exception.”
“Because it’s 2016.” Obviously.