Trudeau, who famously appointed a 50%-woman cabinet "because it's 2015" (rest of the world, please take note) praised women like Viola Desmond, a Black Canadian who fought against racial segregation, and reminded viewers of the discrimination and injustice women still face. He mentioned equal pay; reproductive rights; and the struggles of trans women, indigenous women, and women of color.
Trudeau has already backed up his words with actions: Today, he pledged $650 million (Canadian) to reproductive-rights initiatives worldwide, as well as programs that combat violence against women and forced marriage. This is happening against the backdrop of Trump's reinstating of the global gag rule, which blocks federal aid to organizations that provide abortion or abortion counseling — and in practice, also prevents them from providing a range of critical health and sexual-education services for women in developing countries.
Today, the prime minister also sat down with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to discuss progress (and setbacks) in the fight for gender equality. Among other subjects, he stressed the importance of men's involvement in the fight for women's rights.
"My message to men is that women’s rights are everybody’s rights," he told Sandberg. "We know that society is better — more prosperous, more stable, more peaceful, more cohesive — when women’s rights are respected, and when women are valued, empowered, and lead the way in our communities."
He also talked about how poverty disproportionately affects women and girls. "Women have fewer resources, they’re the least likely to have access to health care, they’re the last ones to eat, and the most vulnerable to the hardships brought on by disease," he said. "Epidemics — including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria — affect so many of the world’s poorest women. They’re the ones left behind."
One of the key ways to achieve gender parity, said Trudeau, is for men to be more engaged in housework and caregiving. "Whether it’s paternal leave, or men who are proudly staying at home with the kids, we’re seeing changes — but there are not enough. We need to see more men becoming equal partners at home — and that’s certainly something that I talk to my kids about."