Alexander De Croo was the only man among women panelists at Global Citizen UK ahead of IWD2019 on March 6th 2019. The then Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, De Croo was invited to speak about his book that advocates feminism. Three months earlier, he had represented Belgium as a country that stood for gender equality at the Global Citizen Festival at the First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg. He had then pledged over $49 million toward family planning and sexual health, in his country’s endeavour towards bringing about equality.
At both the places, he had reiterated: “Unlocking the potential of women is the way to change the world. A better world for women means a better world for men too.”
Upon asking why he saw a purpose behind men involved in gender equality, De Croo asserted, “The evidence shows that gender-equal societies are richer and happier societies. They are a tremendous opportunity for men as well — men can be allowed to break out of traditional male roles and gender stereotypes. That is why feminism also liberates men.”
De Croo’s mother inspired him to advocate for women
Alexander De Croo assumed office as the Prime Minister of Belgium in October 2020. Despite being the son of Minister of State Herman De Croo, Alexander did not pursue politics at first. He studied Business Engineering and Management and eventually worked as a Project Manager with Boston Consulting Group. He also founded his own intellectual property consulting firm called Darts-ip in 2006. It was only in 2009, when De Croo began taking interest in Belgian politics, eventually rising to Deputy Prime Minister position three times until September 2020.
Looking at his career and life trajectory, it seems little likely that De Croo always intended to champion the cause of women. However, upon digging deeper, we learn that his mother Françoise Desguin has always been a strong influence in his life. De Croo once said of his mother, “She is a strong, independent woman — and a feminist!”
However, during his travels as a Belgian politician, he met with girls and women of several countries and realized the acute gender inequality that existed even in the developed world. When he explored the concepts of feminism, De Croo realized that the world needed to break away from the classic rights-based approach. In his view, feminism is not only an ideological principle but an economic imperative. In his words: women represent an untapped pool of potential and qualifications.
“The Age of Women: Why Feminism Also Liberates Men?”
When De Croo thought of penning down his thoughts in a book, he was met with mixed reactions. Many women pointed out that he may try to give a patronizing male perspective to feminism. He brushed aside these doubts by arguing that if the ultimate goal of feminism is equality between men and women, then “it is only logical to say that men also have a role to play.”
De Croo released his book The Age Of Women on April 15th 2019. Through the book, De Croo outlines the importance of women in shaping the future of the whole world. He asserts that the West, contrary to popular opinion, has failed in solving gender issues. The book records De Croo’s experiences of discovering that women around the world had little to no opportunity to progress and were met with a lot of bias in men-dominated fields. He makes an impassioned plea for gender equality presenting data and stories to show its far-reaching benefits and active role of men in the same.
De Croo continues to champion equality
Belgium became one of the three European countries to join hands in launching the SheDecides campaign in March 2017. De Croo, alongside his counterparts in Sweden and Denmark, decided to include women’s needs in government policies. The organization works in the areas of child marriage, contraception, abortion, sexual workers’ rights, mental health, sexual harrasment, LGBTQA rights among others. SheDecides has reached a network of 10,000 Friends in more than 10,000 engaged campaigns in 27 countries around the world.
De Croo’s government has 50% women ministers, the highest proportion so far in any Belgian government. Belgium is one of the only six countries in the world that make absolutely no distinction between men and women at any level.
In April 2021, he was appointed as Global Leader by a non-profit youth organization GenU (Generation Unlimited) to catalyze support for youth employability. In his address as the new Global Leader, De Croo called for a diverse economy. His task would be to partner with CEOs of multinational companies and peer governments to build support for building digital skills and entrepreneurship among young men and women.
In June 2021, De Croo, along with five other government ministers from European countries signed an open letter demanding to end all legal barriers to abortion. The leaders called other global ministers to voice support for women’s right to safe and legal abortion.
De Croo has set a great example of how men can be feminists because gender equality cannot be achieved by participation of only one gender.