The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife shared a photo of herself and Justin Trudeau and encouraged others to post a photo with a "male ally" on social media to commemorate the day.
Ms Grégoire Trudeau, a former television presenter, suggested the inclusion of men would create a movement which is more inclusive towards both genders.
“Let’s celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others,” she wrote beneath a photo of herself and Mr Trudeau, a self-described feminist, holding hands in ski wear.
“Take a picture holding hands with your male ally & share it on social media using the hashtag #TomorrowInHand. Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights & opportunities for everyone… because equality matters.”
People suggested Ms Grégoire Trudeau’s post was “tone deaf”, “utterly ridiculous”, and “shameful”. They argued she had missed the point of International Women’s Day and claimed 364 days of the year were centred around the celebration of men.
"Why do we have to celebrate men on international women's day? I am puzzled," Bibi Ebel asked in a popular comment on Facebook. "There are so many things that can be done to celebrate women, and yet the call goes out to celebrating men. Allies and unity are crucial, but so is womanhood."
“We could make International Women's Day one thing that we don't make about men. Instead, lets take a picture holding hands with a woman who has encouraged us to be who we truly are,” added Jennifer McDade.
Google marks International Women's Day with 13 amazing women
Google marks International Women's Day with 13 amazing women
1/13 Ida Wells
An African-American journalist and activist born in Mississippi in 1862, she wrote prolifically on the fight for women’s suffrage as well as the struggle for civil rights. She documented the practice of lynching black people in the southern states showing how it was often used as means of controlling or punishing black people who competed with whites rather than as a means of “justice” for crimes.
2/13 Lotifa El Nadi
Egypt’s first female pilot born in 1907 in Cairo. Although her father saw no need for her to pursue secondary education, expecting her to marry and have a family, she rebelled and worked as a secretary and telephone operator at a flying school in exchange for lessons as she had no other means to pay for the training. Her achievements made headlines around the world when she flew over the pyramids and competed in international flying races.
3/13 Frida Kahlo
A Mexican painter and activist born in Mexico City in 1907, her work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for its honest depiction of female experience.
4/13 Lina Bo Bardi
A Brazilian architect, born in Italy in 1914, she devoted her life to the promotion of the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. She is also celebrated for her furniture and jewellery designs.
5/13 Olga Skorokhodova
A Soviet scientist born into a poor Ukranian peasant family in 1911, she lost her vision and hearing at the age of five. Overcoming these difficulties in a remarkable way, she became a researcher in the field of communication and created a number of scientific works concerning the development of education of deaf-blind children. She was also a teacher, therapist and writer.
6/13 Miriam Makeba
A South African singer and civil rights activist born in Johannesburg in 1932, she was forced to work as a child following her father’s death. She became a teenaged mother after a bried and allegedly abusive marriage at 17, before she was discovered as a singer of jazz and African melodies. After becoming hugely successful in the US and winning a Grammy, she became involved in the civil rights struggle stateside as well as in the campaign against apartheid in her home country, writing political songs. Upon her death, South African President Nelson Mandela said that “her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.”
7/13 Sally Ride
An American astronaut and physicist, she was born in Los Angeles in 1951 and joined NASA in 1978 after gaining her PhD. She became the first American woman and the third woman ever to go into space in 1983 at the age of 32. Prior to her first space flight, she attracted attention because of her gender and at press conferences, was asked questions such as, “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?” She later worked as an academic at the University of California, San Diego.
8/13 Halet Cambel
A Turkish archaeologist born in 1916, she became the first Muslim women to compete in the Olympics in the 1936 Berlin games as a fencer. She declined an invitation to meet Adolf Hitler on political grounds, and after the conclusion of the Second World War, she trained as an architect and later worked as an academic in Turkey and Germany.
9/13 Ada Lovelace
An English mathematician and writer born in 1815, she became the world’s first computer programmer. The daughter of poet George Byron, she is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, and was the first to recognise the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, creating the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.
10/13 Rukmini Devi
An Indian dancer and choreographer credited with reviving Indian classical dance, she was born in 1904 and presented her form of dance on stage even though it was considered “low” and “vulgar” in the 1920s. She features in India Today’s list of “100 people who shaped India” having also worked to re-establish traditional Indian arts and crafts and as an animal rights activist.
11/13 Cecilia Grierson
An Argentine physician, reformer born in Buenes Aires in 1859, she became the first woman in Argentina to receive a medical degree having previously worked as a teacher. Women were barred from entering medical school at the time, so she first volunteered as an unpaid lab assistant before she was allowed to train as a doctor. She was acclaimed for her work during a cholera epidemic before going on to found the first nursing school in Argentina. The harassment she experienced at mediacl school helped make her a militant advocate for women’s rights in Argentina.
12/13 Lee Tai-young
Korea’s first female lawyer and judge born in 1914 in what is now North Korea, she was also an activist who founded the country’s first legal aid centre and fought for women’s rights throughout her career. Her often mentioned refrain was, “No society can or will prosper without the cooperation of women.” She worked as a teacher, married and had four children before she was able to begin her legal career after the Second World War, becoming the first woman to enter Seoul National University. She also fought for civil rights in the country and was arrested in 1977 for her beliefs, receiving a three-year suspended sentence and a ten year disbarment.
13/13 Suzanne Lenglen
A French tennis champion born in 1899, she popularised the sport winning 31 championships and dominating the women’s sport for over a decade. She was the first female tennis celebrity and one of the first international women sports stars, overcoming a childhood plagued with ill health including chronic asthma – which continued to plague her in her adult life. At 15, she became the youngest ever winner of a major championship and lost only seven matches during her entire career. She received widespread criticism for her decision to turn professional, but defended her right to make a decent living in the days when the grand slam tournaments paid a relative pittance to the winners.
“364 days a year I am all up to holding hands with my favourite men and creating partnerships and alliances that will support equality,” read one of the top-ranked replies. “But today I don’t want to celebrate men. I want to remember all women who protested against not being able to vote, talked about unequal pay, stood up to the society, protecting our rights and freedoms.”
Some argued Ms Grégoire Trudeau’s post shared parallels with the much-criticised mantra of “All Lives Matter”. The phrase has come under heavy criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. They argue the counter-term misunderstands the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and interprets it as meaning “black lives matter more than any other lives” when in actual fact it is an attempt to highlight the fact that black people's lives are relatively undervalued in the US and they are more likely to be the victims of police brutality.
Others argued her husband’s policies did not match his often-touted feminist credentials and labelled him a “lip-service feminist”.
Nevertheless, not everyone was angered by the message, with many voicing their support for her decision to include men. Ian Stumpf said: "Ma'am, despite the backlash you're taking over this, I'd like to say thank you for the spirit of inclusion it was clearly meant in”.
Ms Grégoire Trudeau rushed to defend the controversial post, which garnered almost 4,000 comments, just hours later.
“Well, now we’re having a conversation! Thanks to everyone for your feedback and pics! Love it,” she said in a second post. “Our goal is gender equality, and fighting for it is going to require men and women working together – raising our boys and girls to make a difference, hand-in-hand. This is about recognising that we should be allies on this journey".
Speaking at an event on Wednesday, she said she had written the post because she wanted men and women to be unified in the fight for equality.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel countered her view, saying: "It looked like the PMO sat around and said, 'How can we make International Women's Day about a photo of Justin Trudeau”.Reuse content