Reach­ing out to work­ing women

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOANNA SMITH

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are team­ing up to boost women in the work­force, call­ing fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion a key to eco­nomic growth.

“In or­der to cre­ate eco­nomic growth and lots of very good well­pay­ing jobs, we must en­sure that our econ­omy is a place where women can work and thrive,” Trump said Mon­day dur­ing round­table talks with Trudeau and women busi­ness lead­ers.

The pair an­nounced the cre­ation of a Canada-United States Coun­cil for Ad­vance­ment of Women En­trepreneurs and Busi­ness Lead­ers, a joint ini­tia­tive meant to help busi­nesses owned by women as a way to con­trib­ute to eco­nomic growth, com­pet­i­tive­ness and the in­te­gra­tion of the two economies.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice says the coun­cil will rec­om­mend ways to re­move bar­ri­ers to in­creas­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness for women en­trepreneurs, as well as tackle is­sues af­fect­ing women in the work­force — in­clud­ing those in se­nior lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

“We need poli­cies that help keep women in the work­force and to ad­dress the unique bar­ri­ers faced by fe­male en­trepreneurs — and they are unique,” said Trump, who noted he had em­ployed sev­eral women as ex­ec­u­tives in his com­pa­nies.

“We need to make it eas­ier for women to man­age the de­mands of hav­ing both a job and a fam­ily and we also need to make it eas­ier for women en­trepreneurs to get ac­cess to cap­i­tal.”

Trudeau said that he has heard sim­i­lar com­plaints about such bar­ri­ers, as well as ideas for po­ten­tial so­lu­tions, from the fe­male busi­ness lead­ers he has met on his trav­els.

“When­ever I sit down with a wo­man ex­ec­u­tive, I know that she has had to over­come sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers that ex­ist and there­fore is likely to have greater in­sight into how to ease those bar­ri­ers for oth­ers, but also be a for­mi­da­ble con­trib­u­tor to the suc­cess of busi­ness and our econ­omy,” said Trudeau.

“For me, it’s not just about do­ing the right thing, but un­der­stand­ing that women in lead­er­ship can be a very pow­er­ful lever­age for suc­cess for busi­ness, for com­mu­ni­ties and for our en­tire econ­omy.”

A se­nior Lib­eral gov­ern­ment source said the idea for the round­table came from Katie Telford, chief of staff to the prime min­is­ter.

Dina Pow­ell, who is as­sis­tant to Trump and his se­nior coun­sel­lor on eco­nomic ini­tia­tives, as well as Jared Kush­ner — a se­nior ad­viser to the pres­i­dent who also hap­pens to be Trump’s son-in-law — then got in­volved in mak­ing it hap­pen.

The pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter, Ivanka, who is mar­ried to Kush­ner and was a cham­pion of child care and ma­ter­nity leave dur­ing Trump’s cam­paign, was also at the meet­ing, seated next to Trudeau. She said she looked for­ward to hear­ing in­sights on how to “level the play­ing field” for women in busi­ness.

The high-pro­file women at the round­table meet­ing in­cluded Telford and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

The coun­cil will be made up of 10 fe­male ex­ec­u­tives — half from Cana­dian com­pa­nies and the other half from Amer­i­can com­pa­nies.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ivanka Trump par­tic­i­pates in a round­table dis­cus­sion with fe­male ex­ec­u­tives and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at the White House on Mon­day.

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