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UN, Canada tasks world leaders on gender equality

by Muhammad Sani

By Haruna Gimba

The United Nations and Canada have called on global leaders to do more to ensure gender equality and promote women’s empowerment.

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka made the call at a high-level event organized by UN Women at the UN Headquarters in New York.

He said: “For me, it’s just really obvious. We should be standing up for women’s rights and trying to create more equal societies. I take the positive attention that we are getting right now as an encouragement to be making sure that we are doing even more and indeed participating in a global movement to address this in every country around the world at the same time.

“This needs to be seen not as a women’s movement but as a global movement. We need to challenge folks to step up.”

Mr. Trudeau is a self-proclaimed feminist, who gained global acclaim for his matter-of-fact response to a question about why he appointed a gender-equal Cabinet last year: Saying, “Because it’s 2015.”

Prime Minister Trudeau explained that in order to be able to appoint such a cabinet, his team deliberately sought out women to come forward as candidates. He also stressed continued efforts to retain women in leadership and foster better work-life balance in the workplace.

During the intimate and candid conversation, Trudeau said Canada still needs to do more to reduce wage inequality and confront violence against women, particularly against indigenous women.

On her part, UN Women’s Executive Director stressed the importance of national legislation to end discrimination, achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, and strong leadership to dramatically change the landscape.

“We insist in UN Women that the struggle for gender equality is not just for women, it is for everybody, and those with authority and power, especially; they must lead from the front,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka thanked the Canadian Prime Minister for his feminist leadership and ceremoniously pinned him as the newest champion of UN Women’s signature ‘HeForShe’ campaign, which seeks to engage more men for gender equality.

Moderated by Sade Baderinwa of WABC Channel 7, the discussion was the first segment of a two-part high-level event on Gender Equality and Global Call to Action on Equal Pay organized by UN Women during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60).

The second part featured video messages from Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, and a lively discussion among panelists, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Renana Jhabvala, International Organizing Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jill Shenker, and Olympic gold medalist, Women’s World Cup winner and U.S. football icon Abby Wambach,.

Echoing Prime Minister Trudeau and Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka on the need for joint efforts, Ms. Wambach said global leaders should come together to fight the battle, have one giant voice and make more policy to make sure that none of the injustices against women continue to happen.

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