Americans just can’t seem to get enough of Canadian Prime Minister and self-declared feminist Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau was a guest at the Women Of The World summit in New York City on Wednesday where he participated in a chat with summit host Tina Brown, talking all things feminism and politics to the mostly-female crowd.
The PM told attendees that though Canada may seem like an ideal escape from the current U.S. political climate with our free health care and strict gun control, it takes hard work to not only reach the point our nation is in, but also to stay here.
“A lot of people know you can’t fix things with a Band-Aid,” he says, telling the crowd that change comes from standing by the issues and causes you truly support, People reports. “Is someone going to stand up for what they truly believe in, and not just the way the wind is blowing?” he asks.
Trudeau touched upon his working relationship with Donald Trump, and by extension, his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump.
“You never know what’s going to happen in a given campaign. I said, ‘I will work with whomever the United States elects.’ Canada needs to have a constructive working relationship with whoever is in place, and that’s exactly what I’ve stayed focused on,” he explains.
“Canada doesn’t have the biggest military or population around, but we know there are lots of ways of influencing the world stage,” he says, before explaining his relationship with Ivanka on a task force established for female entrepreneurs.
“It’s way bigger than just Prime Minister to President,” he says of our nation’s relationship, adding, “We’ll use all sorts of avenues to highlight that relationship.”
Naturally, the topic of empowering women was at the forefront at a summit dedicated to women. Trudeau spoke of the importance of putting women in leadership roles and promoting them in the workforce.
“We have to lean on the success of each other if we’re going to be successful. [Progress] doesn’t happen by accident and it won’t continue without effort,” he states. “We can’t just talk about how women need to be empowered without talking to the people who, unfairly, still have more power: the men. When we start realizing that including and promoting women is not just the nice thing to do, but the smartest possible thing to do, you start connecting it in more meaningful ways to the workplace.”
Undoubtedly, the women in attendance are big fans of Trudeau and his views, especially when it comes to feminism.
“His leadership, globally, and his policy with refugees, the parity of women in his government, you just don’t see that in the United States,” Women in the World attendee Samantha Tartas tells People. “Having someone who is a major world leader to be so favorably towards women and their success is amazing.”
Another attendee echoed her sentiment, adding that the Canadian Prime Minister is the perfect guest speaker for the summit.
“He’s tailor-made for a conference like this. He checks every box you could want, except for actually being a woman,” Betsy Fischer Martin says. “He’s supportive of women, he has a cabinet that is diverse, and this crowd here just eats that up.”
Attendee Saumya Gulati tells People: “I think he acknowledges the role men have to play in the feminist movement. People can think of the feminist movement as female-centric movement, but he addresses the idea that for the movement to succeed, we need male involvement, and how beneficial it is to men and masculinity in itself, and that’s why people have really taken to him.”
For many women, it’s important to see a leader like Trudeau stand up for women, especially when compared to Trump’s politics.
“Right now, especially with everything going on in this country, seeing that there’s a male figure in power that really does believe in the importance of women in our government and society, really gives you a breath of a fresh air,” attendee Suna Garcia says. “It’s always great to see people who care, especially men in power. The fact that he’s saying that women do deserve to have the same opportunities is so important.”
Trudeau declared himself a feminist early on in his elected duties when he explained the reasoning behind his equal male and female cabinet simply as, “Because it’s 2015”. That simple statement didn’t go unnoticed by our neighbours to the south.
“When he said, ‘Because it’s 2015,’ when he first came into office, I think that was pretty astounding,” Alyse Nelson, a Women in the World attendee tells People. “That, ‘This is not news, people, it’s not revolutionary or radical, it’s the way it should be. It’s a no brainer.’ I think he’s moved the conversation beyond. Men can’t just say, ‘Let’s empower women,’ they have got to be part of that solution.”