Trudeaun’t Deny Women Their Rights

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia on Thursday November 24, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the most beloved world leaders today. During an interview with the Huffington Post at the 2016 NATO summit, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev attributed Canada’s increased “new government” to Trudeau’s leadership.

“I love him. I admire him. He is a wonderful young leader of this planet. He’s an exceptional politician. He is giving an example to everyone in the world,” said Plevneliev. [1]

Trudeau continues to focus on one issue in particular during his time as prime minister: women’s empowerment. His cabinet is 50% women, and now Canadian foreign policy focuses on an initiative to help more women recognize their potential around the world.

“Africa and the rest of the world will never achieve peace and stability without empowering women and girls,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a November 2016 visit to Liberia. [2]

Canada joins of a handful of countries that champion women’s rights and empowerment as a key tenet to promote international stability. Trudeau focused his speech on how empowering women provides the best way to ensure peace in Liberia and the region, rather than using the typical talking points of security and economics.

Many countries use improving the rights of women as a supporting argument for other development recommendations— seeing it as just a positive externality of a bigger plan. Canada does not directly benefit from female empowerment in Liberia. This recommendation comes from a desire to improve humanity.

Trudeau’s rhetoric while speaking with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf directly stated that Liberia and Canada should improve women’s rights simply because they deserve it.

Canada aims to teach women that they deserve rights because they are human beings. They aim to do more than check off a box and give these women hand-outs. Trudeau pledged millions of dollars to support Canada’s initiative to assist Liberia. This plans includes:

  • $10 million over a period of five years to support UN Women in West Africa
  • $1.5 million to a UN-backed finance instrument to engage women in peace and security
  • $1 million to support the UN Development Program for Liberia’s 2017 elections, and participation of women in politics [3]

Canada continues to show how a country can put women’s empowerment at the core of its international development strategy. [4] Diana Sarosi—a senior policy advisor at Oxfam Canada—says that women in developing countries need empowerment and reminders of their rights over being given welfare. [5]

Canada shows the world that development can take such a bold initiative to focus international policy on women’s empowerment. They use the privilege and strength of their own country to speak out against narratives that shackle those without privilege around the world.

Michaelle Jean, Secretary-General of La Francophonie of Canada, said that she hoped Canada’s actions towards Africa could inspire other world leaders to also empower women.

“I think Canada as a sovereign country has a very strong voice and we all realize and we can see how Canada wants its voice to be heard again,”[6] said Jean.

Canada shows how a powerful should be used to call attention to the important problems in the world—and seek for progress. Jean used her speech to especially encourage President-Elect Trump to take note of Canada’s emphasis on empowering women.

“I’m hoping that actually maybe the new president of the U.S. will see this as an example with its closest neighbor and will be hopefully inspired by our position—Canada’s position—in the world.”vi

Trudeau’nt deny women their rights. The world only improves if strong leaders speak for those who are overlooked. Hopefully other countries will follow Canada’s example and seek for the empowerment of women—just because it is the right thing to do.

—by ORR

 

Sources:

[1] Raj, Althia. “World Leaders Swoon Over Trudeau At UN.” The Huffington Post, 21 Sept. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/19/justin-trudeau-praised-un_n_12093658.html.

[2] Smith, Joanna, “Justin Trudeau calls for empowerment of women and girls in Liberia visit,” The Globe and Mail, November 24, 2016. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/justin-trudeau-visits-liberia-to-discuss-role-of-women-in-political-leadership/article33013079/

[3] Smith, Joanna, “Justin Trudeau calls for empowerment of women and girls in Liberia visit,” The Globe and Mail, November 24, 2016. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/justin-trudeau-visits-liberia-to-discuss-role-of-women-in-political-leadership/article33013079/

[4] Smith, Joanna, “Trudeau to champion women, girls in Liberia, first stop on trip to Africa,” CP 24, November 24, 2016. http://www.cp24.com/news/trudeau-to-champion-women-girls-in-liberia-first-stop-on-trip-to-africa-1.3174556?platform=hootsuite

[5] Smith, Joanna, “Trudeau to champion women, girls in Liberia, first stop on trip to Africa,” CP 24, November 24, 2016. http://www.cp24.com/news/trudeau-to-champion-women-girls-in-liberia-first-stop-on-trip-to-africa-1.3174556?platform=hootsuite

[6] Sanchez, Dana, “Will Canada’s Trudeau be the Anti-Trump when it comes to African engagement?” AFK Insider, November 29, 2016. http://afkinsider.com/135716/trudeau-anti-trump-african-engagement/

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