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Sadiq Khan hails ‘leading feminists’ Trudeau and Ardern

The London mayor hosted the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand at City Hall.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has described the Canadian and New Zealand prime ministers as “two of the leading feminists in the world”.

Mr Khan hosted Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern at City Hall on Wednesday, in an event marking their first engagements since arriving in the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

In front of an audience of children from three secondary schools in the capital, the two prime ministers and the mayor of London discussed gender equality and issues facing the younger generation, in an event marking 100 years since British women secured the vote.

As he introduced the two premiers on stage Mr Khan encouraged loud cheering and said: “We have got two of the leading feminists in the world, they are in positions of power and influence and they are amazing people.”

Mr Trudeau and Ms Ardern took questions from the youngsters, including on the advice they would offer to someone hoping to be prime minister and their opinions on whether the voting age should be changed.

Ms Ardern revealed her mother had been a huge inspiration when pressed on who her role model was, and how during parliamentary question time she would stand at the dispatch box with a file of letters sent by school children.

She said that during the debate she “looks at drawings and pictures from children”, adding: “They are not just sending me happy smiley faces, they are most often sending me big worries in the world.

“Turtles and straws up turtles’ noses, plastics in the sea, they care deeply about issues that lots of people talk about… those letters have an impact on me.”

Sadiq Khan, centre, takes questions with Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Trudeau told the audience he is raising his daughter to believe she can achieve anything, with no barriers in her way, but added it is also important for his sons to be brought up as feminists as well.

“If you think about it, we are in a situation where men are unfairly given more opportunities, more power and more weight to what they say and do because we have an imbalance in our society,” he added.

“Well, the men have to be encouraged and brought along and use that extra power and weight we give them to be part of making equality happen, to be part of the solution.”

Mr Trudeau also stressed how gender equality is not just a social issue, but one that is also economic.

Mr Khan also said that because Ms Ardern had lived in the English capital for two and a half years, in his eyes it means a Londoner is the prime minister of New Zealand.

Justin Trudeau takes a selfie with Sadiq Khan and Jacinda Ardern (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

After the event Mr Khan told reporters: “What is fascinating about these two prime ministers is that they were keen to come to City Hall.

“I am not the prime minister, I am the mayor of London, but (they came) to meet with young people and engage, and in this year when we commemorate 100 years since the first women got the right to vote.”

He said he was impressed by the honesty of the two world leaders and how they are both proud feminists and committed to gender equality.

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