Canadian PM Justin Trudeau advises Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on getting women into politics

The Canadian Prime Minister has said he has given Leo Varadkar some advice on getting women into politics.

Justin Trudeau has said the issue was discussed during a 90-minute meeting between the two leaders in Farmleigh this morning.

Trudeau's cabinet has an equal split of men and women, while Leo Varadkar has been criticised for giving only 20% of ministerial roles to women.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau pictured this morning at Farmleigh House with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after he presented him with an Ireland rugby jersey and a pair of socks during the first day of his official visit to Dublin.Picture Colin Keegan.

The Canadian Prime Minister said women question themselves for political roles.

"For some reason it's more difficult to get women to run for politics than it is to get men to run for politics.

"When you ask a woman to step forward and run, her first question is 'really do you think I should?, do you think I can?, do you think I'm qualified enough?'.

"When you ask a man to run for politics his first question is 'well, what took you so long to ask me?," he said.

The Taoiseach defended his promotions, adding there are 12 female TDs who support the Fine Gael minority Government, 10 of whom have ministries or chair Oireachtas committees.

The Taoiseach said he believes diversity leads to better decision making and that diversity is about more than gender.

"We should try to have a government and a parliament that looks like the country that it tries to represent," he said.

And outlining his ambitions for the next election, he added he wants to get more women to run for parliament and win seats over the next few years.

"Fine Gael already has more female TDs than any other party at 11," he said.

"But I want it to be much higher.

"I'd like it to be 50:50 but certainly at least 20 after the next general election thus giving me more scope to promote even more women than are promoted already.

"That's very much the space I want to be in."

Mr Varadkar added: "Being asked whether you are a feminist or not can often be a trick question because I think other people have to judge that of you, not to make that decision for yourself.

"Certainly if feminism is defined as supporting equal opportunity between men and women, which I do, then I consider myself a feminist but I totally accept that other people may have a different definition of that and therefore not agree."

Mr Trudeau said: "Getting more women into positions of power and authority and success is not just the right thing to do it's the smart thing to do and that's something we both agreed on."


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