Every Leader Needs To Hear What Trudeau Said About Making His Cabinet Feminist

by Alexandra Svokos

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained the very deliberate steps he took in order to have a gender-balanced cabinet once he got to office.

When Trudeau became prime minister, he famously made his cabinet gender-equal, with 50 percent men and 50 percent female.

Since governments around the world (*cough* USA *cough*) are typically male-dominated, this was seen as a significant move.

In explaining his decision to do this, Trudeau famously said he did it because "it's 2015."

But Trudeau wasn't able to do that with just a snap of his fingers.

In fact, he had been planning for a gender-balanced cabinet for some time before the election.

Trudeau explained his scheme at the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Thursday morning.

To get a gender-balanced cabinet, Trudeau needed women in political positions to be able to appoint.

"Before it could be 2015," Trudeau explained, "it had to be 2014, and 2013 and 2012, which were years in which I went out, and my team went out, and convinced great, successful women -- community leaders or global leaders -- to step up and run for politics in a very divisive time. It was really difficult."

While Trudeau and his pretty eyes and proud feminism are persuasive, he said that "women themselves" are even more persuasive.

Rather than just using his white male self to make women run for office, he used the power of sisterhood.

Trudeau had a campaign called "Ask Her To Run." They emailed their mailing list and asked women to ask other women to run for office.

Statistics have shown a major issue in getting more women in the government is that men are more willing to run for office than women.

Of course, running for office presents its problems, but it's a task to get women to run in the first place. As Trudeau said,

You ask a man, 'Do you want to run for office?' His first question is, 'When do I start?' You ask a woman, 'Can you run for office?' Her question is, 'Really? Why me? Do you think I'm good enough? Are you sure?'

Which sounds kind of sexist -- but is backed by studies!

By taking these specific steps to get women into offices in the first place, Trudeau was able to get his gender-balanced administration. He said,

So getting people to ask and to put that pressure and to say, 'Yes, we need you, we want you,' was really important. That was the work we had to do in order to get extraordinary women in sufficient numbers to be able to do a gender-balanced cabinet.

This is good advice for all feminist world leaders to take. Curiously, however, Donald Trump has actually also managed to motivate women to run for office, in record numbers.

But I don't think I'm quite ready to suggest world leaders follow Trump's methods of motivation.

Citations: The Problem for Women Is Not Winning. It's Deciding to Run. (New York Times), First They Marched, Now More Than 13,000 Women Are Planning to Run for Office (New York magazine)