By Youmna Benmaymoun
Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been making headlines for the last few days and there is a legitimate reason behind this entire buzz. In his victory speech on October 19, Trudeau reminded Canadians that they voted for him because they craved change and that is exactly what is happening now. His first move marked a victory for women all over the world, not just in Canada, when he announced earlier this month that his cabinet would consist of 50% men and 50% women.
The day he was sworn in, November 4, 2015, Trudeau published an open letter in which he insisted on his will to change, giving space to the announcement about his gender-balanced cabinet in the very first paragraph. “For the first time in our country’s history – there will be an equal number of women and men around the cabinet table,” he said. Just 24 hours later, he was already on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s most powerful people at number 69.
When he was asked at a press conference why it was important for him to take this move, he simply responded: “because it is 2015.” And yes, he is right! It is already 2015 and women still have to ask explicitly for the right to have salaries equal to men. Therefore, it was about time someone like Trudeau showed up with such a wind of change. Indeed, we hope it develops into a storm and shakes the rest of the world. In an article about this subject, Elisabeth May, Leader of Canada’s Green Party, recalls how a similar action done by a Norwegian prime minister in the 1980s set the scene for social change. In 1986, Gro Harlem Brundtland formed a government in which 40% of its members were women. “One of my friends who worked most closely with Gro Brundtland said she had to consciously sacrifice a generation of strong male leaders to take a meaningful step for women’s rights,” said May.
Prominent media figures and politicians are criticizing Trudeau’s gender equal cabinet and claim that such positions should be based on meritocracy. Little do they know if they didn’t notice that such a decision means that there are as many competent women out there as men. Therefore, having a cabinet with equal quotas for the two only ensures that it will have equal numbers of the two genders.
Included in Trudeau’s agenda are issues that have the public attention such as boosting the economy, strengthening the middle class, caring more for climate change and legalizing marijuana. Although skeptical pundits started already wasting ink to express their doubt about what is coming next, public opinion is still very positive and Canadians are looking forward to what is coming next.