Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said gender equality was under attack and progress in women’s rights was backsliding, Reuters reported. He spoke at the launch of a major global conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women.
“Gender equality is under attack,” Trudeau said at the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver. “Individuals and interest groups are trying to roll back women’s rights. Politicians are giving into the pressure, shamefully campaigning to undo women’s hard-won victories. That’s a daunting reality.”
Although he did not name any politicians, Trudeau had said on May 30 he would raise his concerns about the United States and other countries “backsliding” on women’s rights at his meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence, one of the most prominent American opponents of abortion.
Trudeau, who is a self-avowed feminist and has a gender-equal Cabinet, said progress in women’s rights was not happening because of hostility against women on social media that seeps into public discourse. He told delegates that women around the world were battling hatred, misogyny and political campaigns to undo their rights.
The three-day Vancouver conference is being attended by some 8,000 delegates from more than 165 countries, including leaders, activists, academics and journalists. The conference was opened by a procession of indigenous men and women dressed in traditional clothing, some of them wearing red in memory of murdered and missing girls and women.
“For too long, indigenous women and girls have experienced violence at a rate that is staggering when compared to non-indigenous women,” Trudeau said. An inquiry by his government had found that the deaths of more than 1,000 aboriginal girls and women in recent decades constituted national genocide, the prime minister added, calling it a “significant step toward justice”. Trudeau vowed to develop and implement a national action plan to prevent any such violence.
His comments came on a day a report on gender equality around the world was launched. According to the report, no country is on track to achieve equality by 2030. Some 40% of the world’s girls and women, numbering 1.4 billion, live in countries that have failed to achieve gender equality.