NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Boys need to be raised to be feminists as much as girls because "our sons have the power and the responsibility to change our culture of sexism," Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in an essay published on Wednesday.
He said teaching boys to be feminists gives them a sense of justice and empathy and helps them "escape the pressure to be a particular kind of masculine" that is damaging to men and those around them.
Trudeau, 45, who took office in 2015, frequently refers to himself as a feminist and has said he wants to make gender equality a priority.
He drew global attention by appointing a cabinet with an equal number of men and women and called on world leaders to do the same. His administration has adopted what it describes as a feminist policy toward foreign aid.
In his essay, Trudeau said he had been thinking about how to raise his daughter Ella-Grace as a feminist when his wife Sophie reminded him that their sons Xavier and Hadrien needed to be advocates for women as well.
"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 wrote in the essay for the online site of the women's magazine Marie Claire.
"Our sons have the power and the responsibility to change our culture of sexism," he added in remarks released on the United Nations' designated International Day of the Girl.
He described feminism as "the unwavering conviction that all people have the same rights and freedoms."
"That world doesn't exist yet. But it can be built," he wrote. "That's the world we want our kids to live in."
The essay coincided with Trudeau's meeting in Washington, D.C., with U.S. President Donald Trump for trade talks.
Trump has come under heavy criticism for his attitudes toward women. During his campaign, a videotape was released in which he could be heard bragging about groping and having sex with women.
Trump's administration has proposed or undertaken measures that many see as harmful to women's rights, particularly in the areas of abortion access, health insurance, child care and workplace policies.
Last week, his administration stripped out requirements under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act law that employers provide insurance to cover women's birth control.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. ) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; 646-223-6283; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))