"Progress can backslide. We're seeing it happen. Gender equality is under attack. And I can only imagine how hard it is to be a feminist on the frontlines," said Canada's PM Justin Trudeau in an opening address to the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver. He warned of declining women's rights.
"Individuals and interest groups are trying to roll back women's rights," Trudeau said without giving names. At the three-day Vancouver conference, 8000 participants, including leaders, activists, academics and journalists from 150 countries came together to discuss gender equality.
He added that "politicians are giving into the pressure, shamefully campaigning to undo women's hard-won victories."
The conference opened with a procession of women in traditional clothing, a lot of them wearing red to honour memory of women and girls who were murdered or missing.
Trudeau has made gender equality a priority in his government, which faces parliamentary elections in October. After taking office in 2015 he formed a cabinet with equal numbers of male and female ministers.
According to the first index to measure progress against a set of internationally agreed targets, no country is set to achieve gender equality by 2030. Even the Nordic states that rank fairly well when it comes to gender parity would need to take massive strides to fulfil further commitments and achieve complete equality.
Trudeau, earlier this week attended the unveiling of a report that concluded that perhaps thousands of aboriginal women were victims of endemic violence that amounted to "genocide." His government also announced funding of Can$300 million (US $223 million) for women's rights organizations in Canada and overseas.