He may be the prime minister of Canada — but Justin Trudeau says some of his most important work is not as a political leader, but as a parent.
In a new essay for MarieClaire.com, Trudeau talks about how he and wife Sophie try to “nurture empathy, compassion, self-love, and a keen sense of justice” in their three children, daughter Ella Grace, 8, and sons Xavier, 9, and Hadrien, 3.
But Trudeau says he worries about the “violence, discrimination and stereotypes” his daughter may encounter in a world where women still aren’t treated as equals to men.
“I worry — because as a father, son, husband, and citizen, I witness the unequal obstacles women and girls face every day,” Trudeau writes. “It’s 2017, yet in Canada and around the world, women and girls still face violence, discrimination, stereotypes that limit them, and unequal opportunities that keep them from achieving their dreams. It is maddening to me that my brilliant, compassionate daughter will grow up in a world where, despite everything she is as a person, there will still be people who won’t take her voice seriously, who will write her off — simply because of her gender.”
Trudeau, who notably appointed a Cabinet with an equal number of men and women, says he tries to do his part to level the playing field for women. But he also knows it’s important to prepare his daughter for the unfair treatment she will undoubtably face in life.
“So the best thing we can do is to help Ella learn, unshakeably, that she is enough, exactly as she is,” he says. “That she has immense power, and intrinsic worth, which no one can ever take away from her. That she has a strong voice, which she can use, and trust.”
“That means raising her feminist. Full stop,” he adds.
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But the Trudeaus’ work doesn’t end there. The prime minister recalls how his wife helped him reach a “turning point” in realizing that they must also raise their sons to be strong advocates for women and girls.
“Gender equality is not only an issue for women and girls. All of us benefit when women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys — and it’s on all of us to make that a reality,” he says. “Our sons have the power and the responsibility to change our culture of sexism, and I want Xavier and Hadrien—when he’s a little older—to understand that deeply.”
Trudeau also says he wants his sons to be free from toxic masculinity, or what he describes as “the pressure to be a particular kind of masculine that is so damaging to men and to the people around them.”
“I want them to be comfortable being themselves, and being feminists — who stand up for what’s right, and who can look themselves in the eye with pride,” he adds.