Van Tine Dennis—Sipa USA/AP
September 23, 2016 12:07 PM EDT

Canadian Prime Minister and proud feminist Justin Trudeau made an impassioned call for men to join the fight for gender equality at the United Nations this week.

“I think that everybody should be in the business of improving opportunities for women and girls,” Trudeau said at the UN Women’s movement HeForShe‘s second anniversary event on Tuesday night. “We need women and girls to succeed because that’s how we build stronger, more resilient communities. It’s how we grow a stronger economy. Encouraging the full participation of women and girls in public life and in the business world leads to better decision making all around.”

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Trudeau, who made waves for appointing a cabinet with an equal number of men and women, added that he wants his seven-year-old daughter, Ella-Grace, to grow up with as much opportunity as her two brothers, Xavier and Hadrien.

“But I also want my sons, Xavier and Hadrien, to be active and engaged in understanding that they have to work and fight so that their sister, Ella-Grace, has the opportunities as well. It’s not just about women’s issues, it’s about everyone’s issues,” he said. “We know that if kids grow up in an equal world, it is a better world — more open, more prosperous, and more peaceful.”

The prime minister also asked that people hold him and other politicians accountable for how they addressed the issue. Trudeau has fielded some criticism from feminists in the past, notably for a budget that some said didn’t go far enough in addressing gender disparities in March and for visiting a gender-segregated mosque earlier this month.

“We need you to continue challenging your friends, your neighbors, your political leaders every day to do better,” he said. “Because we can and because we must.”

Watch Trudeau’s full speech below.

Write to Samantha Cooney at

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