Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Made A Huge Push For Feminism & Gender Equality In Politics At WEF

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At the 2016 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, a gathering of the world’s greatest minds (heads of state, central bankers, chief executives and billionaire investors) used their expertise to share ways on how to improve the global economy from a number of different angles.

In 2015, we reported how gender equality was a huge focus of the event, not surprising given the many ways gender equality was at the forefront of discussions in a number of industries. By now there are many of us who are well aware you cannot improve the economy without addressing the fact that women are disproportionately affected by poverty and wealth inequality. It’s one of the reasons why the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals announced toward the end of 2015 included a mandate to improve the lives of women through specific gender equality measures in its 17 targets to eliminate poverty world wide.

The economy improves when girls have the chance to complete an education, women are given economic empowerment, when they have the choice to marry and have kids later, and the chance to participate in all areas of life especially in public policy decisions.

At this year’s WEF, it was ironically pointed out through the media that although it claims to be an event shaping the way we look at the economy, there is a glaring lack of female representation in the solutions being discussed. The New York Times reported that out of the 2500 attendees, only 17.8% are women.

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“While that is a slight improvement over previous years, it still reflects the reality of geopolitical and economic power today: Men are almost always the ones at the top,” wrote Alexandra Stevenson.

Two women present at the event who are leading the way on pushing gender equality measures are Theresa Whitmarsh, head of the Washington State Investment Board, and Elizabeth Nyamaro, head of the UN Women’s He For She campaign. Each of the women will be releasing reports through their respective companies on solutions toward reaching gender parity by 2030. They will work with various corporations who have agreed to release private information on the state of diversity within their own boardrooms and actively seek ways to change the way they include more women.

It is also part of the United Nations’ larger effort to enable female economic empowerment to be part of every economic conversation worldwide.

One of the most important panels during WEF was the Gender Equality panel, which included Facebook COO and “Lean IN” author Sheryl Sandberg, humanitarian and women’s healthcare champion Melinda Gates, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Here’s why we believe this panel was by far the most important when it comes to discussion gender equality advancement: because aside from the acknowledgement that we need to create ways for increased female participation in key areas of the economy and decision-making bodies, we also need men to actively be part of this movement, encouraging other men to stand alongside women in this fight.

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Justin Trudeau is perfectly positioned to be a global advocate of this movement, because he represents a younger breed of political leadership the younger generations are desperate to see more of. Ever since his first day in office where he showed up to the press conference with a 50/50 gender split cabinet, declaring “because it’s 2015” when asked why gender equality was important to him, he is leading the way for men to understand their role in this issue.

In a series of videos share by Canadian Global News, PM Trudeau emphatically talked about the need for men to not be ashamed of calling themselves feminists, and why having his own family forced him to confront how important it is to bring men into the conversation.

“I’ve been thoughtful about how I raise my daughter, but [my wife Sophie] took me aside a few months ago and said ‘it’s great that you’re engaged and modeling to your daughter that you want her empowered, but you need to [make] as much effort to talk to your sons about how [they] treat women and how they are going to grow up to be a feminist just like dad’. And by the way, we shouldn’t be afraid of the word feminist,” he said to much applause from the audience.

In addition to his comments, Sheryl Sandberg said equality isn’t just the right thing, it is the smart thing from a workplace point of view. Having access to a more inclusive staff means you will outperform other companies which don’t.

In terms of government, it is also a smart decision, which is why Justin Trudeau chose to make a conscious effort to have a diverse cabinet. Just like in a corporate setting, the PM said this was important to him because the more diverse his team around him is, the more chance he has of implementing policies that affect a wider range of people in his country. It is the type of thinking EVERY political candidate should possess, but sadly when you look around the world, this idea of diversity and inclusivity being beneficial to all eludes some.

In the two videos below, he explains how he managed to incorporate such a high percentage of women in his cabinet, which he is adamant wasn’t just for gender equality’s sake. During his election campaign, he had his team do a major social media outreach asking people to tell women to run for office, to encourage them that their voice matters at a high level and that the government needs them in order to reach all citizens. It seemed to work because when it came time to choosing candidates for each post, Justin made sure he had an adequate number of men and women to choose from.

While the criticism against the WEF for not having a greater percentage of women represented on panels and as attendees, there are powerful conversations being had and they are being amplified around the world. Yes change is slow, but as Justin Trudeau has showed so far as Prime Minister, it often doesn’t have to be if it just a matter of re-thinking your approach to filling roles, boardrooms, seats and influential positions.

If we can start electing more world leaders who think like him, we have no doubt the discussions about gender equality would be much more advanced.


 

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: It's Not Just Justin, Canadian First Lady Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau Is Also A Feminist - GirlTalkHQ

  2. Pingback: It's Not Only Justin, Canadian First Lady Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau Is Also A Feminist - GirlTalkHQ

  3. Pingback: FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS: The Growing Trend Of Men Speaking Publicly About Feminism - GirlTalkHQ

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