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

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Castlegar teen cited for drinking and driving near Rossland

The 17 year old put his car in a ditch.

Castlegar Rebels drop weekend matches

Next Rebels home game is Friday at 7 p.m. against Fernie.

Castlegar Midget Rebels fall to Penticton in shootout

The Castlegar midget house Rebels hosted their home tournament last weekend

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

B.C. mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

South Cariboo Driver hits four cows due to fog

The RCMP’s investigation is ongoing

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

Most Read