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Justin Trudeau: 'We Men Have To Be Feminists Too'

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 11/03/2016 Amanda Terkel
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that gender equality is a central part of his agenda -- and if it's to succeed, men need to chip in more.

"It can't just be women who are feminists. We men have to be feminists too," he said.

Trudeau has been in Washington this week for a state visit with President Barack Obama. On Friday, he spoke to a progressive audience brought together by the nonprofits Center for American Progress and Canada 2020. 

When Trudeau took office in November, women made up half his Cabinet -- a higher proportion of women than in Obama's administration.

After a reporter asked him why it was so important for him to have gender balance, he replied simply, "Because it's 2015." 

Trudeau said he's worked hard to encourage more "strong women" to run for office, but he noted that it's tough because society has not encouraged women to see themselves as political leaders. 

He talked about Chrystia Freeland, a Canadian journalist who first ran for parliament in 2013 and is now the minister of international trade. 

"It took work to draw her in," Trudeau recounted of his efforts to convince Freeland to enter politics. "Even someone as extraordinary as she was, some of her first reactions were, 'Really? Do you think I'd be any good?'"

"If I asked a guy if he'd come up and run for me, he'd say, 'OK, do I have to wear a tie all the time?'" Trudeau said. "The questions are different; a woman's question is, 'Are you sure?' A guy's like, 'Sure! About time you asked me!'"

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