Canada's Prime Minister Was Asked About Feminism and Gave an Excellent Answer

January 23rd 2016

Kylie Cheung

At the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Friday, four out of five delegates were men but feminism came up quickly when a journalist asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his gender-balanced cabinet, which is made up of equal numbers of men and women. Trudeau was met with applause when he said, "we shouldn't be afraid of the word feminist. Men and women should use it to describe themselves any time they want."

Trudeau also addressed how crucial it is that men take part in the movement for gender equality, which is frequently misrepresented as a movement that antagonizes or hurts men. "There's a lot of hard work to do and the first part is recognizing it," he said. "Men have to be a part of this conversation." The World Economic Forum’s annual report on the gender gap ranked Canada 80th out of 130 countries regarding gender wage equality, and 40th on numbers of women in politics and leadership positions.

Related: Why the "Wage Gap Myth" Is Not Really a Myth

Trudeau has since earned praise for his comments on feminism from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

The discussion about feminism began when moderator and BBC journalist, Lyse Doucet, asked Trudeau about his famous "Because it's 2015" response, his notable reply as to why he so deliberately worked to have a cabinet with equal numbers of men and women. His cabinet is the first in Canadian history to have an equal gender ratio and in November, he proudly identified it as a "cabinet that looks like Canada."


The ministers, 15 women and 15 men, are mostly under the age of 50, indicating intergenerational representation for Canada as well, as The Guardian pointed out. In many countries around the world including the United States, representatives are predominantly older white males and leadership teams and roles are largely void of women. Trudeau's cabinet represents a huge step toward equality.

The Canadian Prime Minister has received praise from Emma Watson, leader of the #HeForShe campaign, for his administration's inclusiveness and his stances on female leadership. Trudeau's latest comments on feminism also align well with the campaign's message, which calls upon men to help women with the battle for gender equality.

"I look forward to a point where people don't notice the diversity in cabinet or that it's 50-50 men and women, that it's just, yes, this is a government that looks like Canada and it will engage with Canada the right way," Trudeau said at the Forum. "People have to know that before I could say, ‘Because it’s 2015,’ an awful lot of hard work went into 2012, 2013, 2014. I personally convinced a number of extraordinary women to step forward."