Canadian President Justin Trudeau Promotes Women Empowerment at IIMA


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Read all about the Canadian President, Justin Trudeau’s address at IIM, Ahmedabad

On February 19th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had visited the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad to address students and teachers as part of an open discussion on ‘Education and Investment Opportunities’. Organized at RJ Matthai Auditorium, Ahmadabad, the program lasted for an hour and boasted off a full house attendance by more than 400 plus students from IIMA and other colleges in the state.

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During the open discussion, Trudeau discussed about dynastic politics, trade relations between his country and India and the refugee crisis. But the topic for which he was most quoted and appreciated was his open views on feminism and women empowerment. In fact, he went on board and declared that he was a feminist and women empowerment was equally required for true development of any country.

He went to state that a society cannot perform its best if the women of that society were not using their full potential or were under-performed or not given equal opportunities as men. He further described his declaration of being a feminist as a very normal thing wherein anybody who opined that men and women were equal and be given similar footing and opportunities is not so different than being labelled as a feminist. Another relevant point was also made in this regard when Trudeau noted that undertaking any women empowerment activity wasn’t just a nice thing to be done but actually a smart move by any country for actual growth and development.

Talking about the discrimination that women faced, he added that this was true and discriminatory practices existed in almost every sector including business and politics. In the same context, he also talked about how men faced backlashes and sexism though they would never come up to half the level of sexism and discrimination that women faced everywhere in this world. He ended this point by stressing on the urgent need of a greater gender balanced approach everywhere, including homes, offices, colleges, societies and right up to the ruling governments.

Moving on, he also spoke about the challenges faced by the developing and developed countries even at the brink of latest technology advancements. As humans, he stressed on the need to understand and respect diversities among cultures, race, regions, class and gender as these differences could be used productively as a great source of strength. In this time of heterogeneous societies, the new reality of the 21st century, the choices to be made were many and varied yet they were equally relevant in diverse cultural country like India.

Trudeau also stated that he was against the idea of dividing societies into castes and religions that failed to respect different religious beliefs. For this, he suggested a pluralistic approach, one that could easily help all languages, religions, beliefs and ideologies to co-exist in a mutual environment through shared values and cultures.

When asked about the essential requisites of a world leader in current times, Trudeau replied that one who was able to promote globalization in his or her country with friendly doses of nationalization would make a better leader. Though this scenario appeared to be challenging now and appeared difficult to implement amidst rising problems of rigid nationalism and its strict adherence, it could be handled smartly or intelligently by governments and the citizens of any country for that matter.

With regard to the refugee crisis, Trudeau talked about the need of appropriate and adequate measures or strategies that could rehabilitate and facilitate the refugee situation everywhere so that they could secure their future generation and contribute to any nation’s growth and development. At the same time, he also referred to his own country’s policy to open their borders to more refugees and other current plans to provide for health care facilities and other refugee benefits.

Moving on to trade relations and business,  he praised the current trade relations between India and Canada which were valued at $8 billion in goods and $2 billion in services a year and hinted at the future possibility of trading in agricultural products between the two countries. He ended this point by elaborating on the various ways in which Canada focused and invested on cultural assimilation and integration of people coming into the country, either through the housing, education or employment sector.

Towards the end of his discussion, he ended on a positive note on the need of believing in the people or citizens of any country. For any nation to grow, every citizen had to be given equal opportunity to contribute from their side. This should include the women as much the men, as they shared about 50% of the total population. Lastly, he pointed out to the students that they were indeed the potential leaders of tomorrow and therefore should work on destroying boundaries and creating diverse working environments in homes, public places and workplaces. He took the example of Mahatma Gandhi, his inspiration among Indian leaders and urged to see the goodness in each one so as to make the right choices and put good use of education for a better tomorrow.

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