Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Monday, June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Hatred of women creeping into public debate, Trudeau tells equality conference

Women Deliver is a global advocate for gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of girls and women

Gender equality is under attack and, in the age of social media, it’s never been easier to taunt and spread abhorrent views, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a global conference on the issue Monday.

Trudeau, who was in Vancouver for the opening address of Women Deliver 2019, said that hatred is creeping in the public debate, with interest groups trying to roll back women’s rights, while politicians are giving into the public pressure.

“The rights we enjoy in Canada, and the rights so many have enjoyed around the world, are not guaranteed. Progress can backslide,” Trudeau said.

“We’re seeing it happen. Gender equality is under attack, and I can only imagine how hard it is to be a feminist on the front lines.”

The prime minister didn’t say what he was referring to, although last week he said he planned to talk to U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence about the growing number of American laws that restrict abortion.

The Trump administration has also reinstated a policy known as the “global gag rule,” which bans U.S. federal funding for non-governmental organizations abroad that provide abortion services. Shortly after the U.S. adopted the rule in 2017, the Trudeau government committed $650 million for sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide.

Trudeau said the history of women’s rights shows that every step forward is met by another push back, and women are still routinely facing misogyny, racism and hatred.

He said politicians are “shamefully” campaigning to undo women’s hard-won victories.

“That’s a daunting reality to face. My friends, we are not powerless. It’s up to us to fight back,” he said.

He also spoke to the crowd about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, saying Canada can and must do better to end violence against all women.

His remarks were interrupted by a woman in the crowd who cried out, “Then do something!”

Another yelled, “Shame!”

Despite the brief outburst, the crowd loudly applauded when he acknowledged that the report concluded that violence against Indigenous women amounted to nothing less than a genocide.

“Let me be clear, our government will always be your partner, willing to admit when mistakes are made and working very hard to build a better future for all our children,” Trudeau said.

“My friends, I know and you know that we can’t take our foot off the pedal, not even for a moment. There’s simply too much at stake. Canada’s leadership isn’t going anywhere.”

READ MORE: All Canadians have a role to play in ending MMIW ‘genocide,’ report says

READ MORE: ‘Now the real work begins:’ Families urge action after missing women inquiry report

Women Deliver is a global advocate for gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of girls and women. The four-day conference is billed as the world’s largest event advocating for those rights.

The conference was attended by world leaders, including the presidents of Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia, who joined Trudeau for a panel discussion following his speech.

Panel moderator Lyse Doucet, a BBC journalist, commended Trudeau for being one of the first world leaders to describe himself as a “feminist” and bring in a gender-equal cabinet.

But she noted he had a “tough year,” given that he brought “tough women” into his cabinet, and asked how it had affected his feminism.

Former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott were kicked out of the Liberal caucus this year after they alleged the Prime Minister’s Office had pushed for Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to avoid a criminal trial.

Trudeau said the experience has increased his feminism and made him think differently about it.

“Feminism and diversity and inclusion is not about making things easier. It often makes things a little more difficult,” he said. ”To have strong voices sticking up for different perspectives means you’re going to get challenged, means you get to challenge back, and you get to try and figure out what the right path is forward.

“No one person has the monopoly on all the right answers, regardless of their gender, regardless of their background, regardless of their position as prime minister.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alberni teen band Stranger Than Fiction to open for Said the Whale

Stranger Than Fiction will open on Sept. 26 in Nanaimo and Sept. 27 in Campbell River

Comedy show in Port Alberni raises funds for local charity

The Human Condition Comedy Tour will be at the Rainbow Room on Sept. 19

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to hear feedback on cannabis production

Bylaw amendment could limit cannabis production in the district

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs pick up first win of the season on home ice

Bannister, Bosse play the heroes in ‘close’ game with Nanaimo

UPDATE: UVic students killed in Bamfield bus crash were from Winnipeg, Iowa City

RCMP also said a second vehicle was in the area at the time of the collision

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Most Read