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Ireland’s New Prime Minister Asked Justin Trudeau for Advice on Gender Equality

The two met in Dublin on Tuesday where Varadkar upstaged Trudeau, who's known for flashy socks.AFP/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Dublin on Tuesday as one of the first world leaders to meet with Ireland’s new Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who was elected last month.

The meeting of the two young leaders—Trudeau is 45, Varadkar is 38—was marked, in part, by a light-hearted moment in which the Irish premiere upstaged his Canadian counterpart by showing off a pair of flashy socks. (Trudeau has a penchant for quirky hosiery.) But the two prime ministers also had more serious topics to discuss, including gender equality.

According to the Irish Examiner, Varadkar said he was “very impressed” by Trudeau’s record on gender equality in his government, and sought input from Trudeau on the issue.

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“I am always of the view that diversity leads to better decision-making,” said Varadkar.

Varadkar’s background gives him a unique perspective on diversity and inclusivity. He is Ireland’s youngest-ever prime minister as well as its first openly-gay leader and the first Irish premier of Indian descent.

“Diversity is about more than gender,” he said, “but diversity in general leads to better decision-making and we should try to have a government and parliament that looks like the country that it represents. I did seek some advice from Justin on this because I am very impressed by the fact that he has a cabinet that is gender-balanced.”

Varadkar also said he’d make an effort to get more women from his Fine Gael party into parliament.

“Fine Gael already has more female [MPs] than any other party at 11, but I want it to be much higher,” he said. “I would like it to be 50/50 and at least 20 after the next election, thus giving me more scope to promote even more women than are promoted already.”

When Varadkar picked his cabinet in June, he selected three women among his 19 ministers of state. Six of his 34 ministers in government are women.

Trudeau, meanwhile, famously appointed a gender-balanced cabinet when he took office in 2015 and he’s maintained that parity in subsequent reshuffles. In explaining why he selected an equal number of men and women as ministers after being elected, Trudeau said flatly: “because it’s 2015.”