Justin Trudeau, who assembled a cabinet with an equal number of men and women last year “because it’s 2015,” spoke on Mar. 16 during the U.N.’s 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Trudeau says he has no problem calling himself a feminist but that every time he mentions it, the “Twitterverse explodes.” Also, he told large New York audiences that he looks forward to someday being able to call himself a feminist without having it wind up in news headlines.
The prime minister told a packed United Nations convention hall that he foresees a generational shift, as more parents raise their kids to embrace the term as a endorsement of basic equality.
The 44-year old Liberal leader said that calling himself a feminist simply means: “I believe in the equality of men and women.”
“I’m going to keep saying, loud and clearly, that I am a feminist until it is met with a shrug,” he told the UN women’s conference Wednesday, in an auditorium filled with a nearly all female audience.
Asked where his commitment to gender equality originated, he explained it was simply due to his age:
“For my generation and younger, it’s all sort of a ‘duh’. The fact that [it] gets such a reaction from the powers and the authority structure that surrounds us really shows how much work we still have to do.”
The son of late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Trudeau also said his mother considered herself a woman’s rights activist “even back in the early days.”
Justin Trudeau said it’s different now.
He said he and his wife are teaching their kids — two boys and a girl — to embrace feminism. And he predicted that more and more people would do so over time, with young people leading the way.
“It’s just really, really obvious,” he said, drawing applause from the diplomatic crowd.
“We should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies? Like, duh.”
Justin Trudeau said that process was complicated by the fact that women were more likely to refuse career opportunities — because they were busy caring for children and elderly parents.
Trudeau suggested policies that encourage a work-life balance. He offered one potential example of parental leave that would only be available to men. A PMO official explained that the government isn’t actually considering this, but is looking at family-friendly policies including changes in the House of Commons rules for federal employees.
The moderator at the UN auditorium event, New York ABC news anchor Sade Baderinwa, told him: “With all the nods, and all the clapping, I think you’re well-liked in this room, prime minister.”