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Have Your Say: How can we raise a generation of boys to care about women’s issues?

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children, Me to We and We Day. Find out more at we.org. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

Reading the news headlines reminds Glen Canning of how much work he has to do. "Every day there is some story about a girl or woman being harassed, assaulted, raped or slut-shamed," says Canning in dismay.

Canning put himself in the national spotlight when he took on the role of impassioned activist after his daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, hung herself. She was sexually assaulted at a party in Nova Scotia and endured more than a year of brutal harassment when images of the crime went viral.

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Canning's mission is simple: use his voice and daughter's tragedy to get young men to better understanding consent and sexual assault, and convince them not to be passive bystanders when they see any form of harassment and violence. "I wish we were having this conversation years ago with boys and men because if we were, I might still have my daughter today. One voice could have saved Rehtaeh."

Todd Minerson agrees. He is executive director of the White Ribbon Campaign, a global anti-violence movement that also encourages men to be advocates on issues such as stamping out sexism.

"We have reached a peak in awareness of the problem of harassment and violence. The majority of men don't condone it and there is a definite shift in realizing men and boys have to be engaged in women's issues; be part of the solution. But too many men are still silent."

How can raise boys and young men to be feminists?

THE EXPERTS

Todd Minerson

"At White Ribbon Campaign we have a conversation with boys, teens and men about what it means to be male today. We help them connect the dots and see gender equality benefits everyone; if we were all treated equally with respect and without stereotypes, no one would be subject to violence, harassment or discrimination. Then they see what feminism is about and it makes sense."

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Kathy Lynn, Canadian parenting expert and author of But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home (Whitecap Books Ltd., 2010)

"Children learn by watching us. If we want them to be feminists, they need to see their fathers, grandfathers and uncles treat all the women in their lives with the same respect and dignity they accord men. Then they will know that this is the right way to live. We should let them know we expect them to treat all people with respect regardless of gender, race or sexual identity."

Glen Canning

"It helps a lot that our prime minister Justin Trudeau has called himself a feminist. We need more men who will do this. Then, let's ask the men who are comfortable saying it to step back and ask themselves, 'Do I believe in equality? Do I believe violence against women should be stopped?' Then teach them if you believe in these things, you believe in feminism."

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