Two months ago, on September 20th, Emma Watson spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The actress was appointed seven months ago to be the Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, and has since then worked diligently to bring awareness to the issue of gender equality. During her empowering speech, she announced a new campaign called “HeForShe”, and addressed several issues concerning feminism and the inequality gap for both men and women.
The new campaign, HeForShe, was created to encourage men across the world to be more actively involved in the fight for women’s rights. The campaign is striving to unite the efforts of both genders to simultaneously change the inequalities and discriminations women still face today. They ask anyone who is interested to visit their website and pledge their commitment to actively help their cause. By keeping count, the public can see how many men in each country have chosen to be an advocate for such an important battle. As of today, 484,912 men have agreed to support the campaign across the globe. They have also launched an impact initiative, branching out to the head of states, corporations and universities to support their cause. From Presidents and Prime Ministers to CEOs and Chairmen, several countries have had strong male leaders come forward and pledge to fight for the women amongst their community.
As Watson’s speech continued, she brought to light a topic that has recently become increasingly sensitive. She spoke on behalf of the infamous word “feminism”. If you have ever uttered the word, and received a back lash of judgmental glares or sighs, then you can understand my enthusiasm to hear Watson address this issue. The actress goes on to explain the misunderstanding of the term and the negativity that accompanies it. Two synonyms, “man-hating” and “bossiness”, go hand-in-hand when women attempt to explain their feminist point of views. As she says during her speech, along with the fight for equality, we need to end the scrutiny for feminists as well. If you can not support the word, look deeper and at least understand the cause.
She then turned the attention to the men in the audience, addressing social issues and stereotypes. Watson explains that the standards in which men are held to are also a huge role in gender inequality for women. Because men are expected to be the stronger, more controlling presence in society, women are suppressed to feel the need be the weaker gender of the two. She encourages both genders to start accepting each other for who we truly are, rather than what we are expected to be, which is the general concept for the HeForShe campaign.
To wrap up her speech, Watson addressed why she is confronting this conflict. In her final thoughts she emphasizes that now is the best time to stand up and fight for what you strongly believe in. Not one country can attest to achieving gender equality for both men and women, and that is why HeForShe was created. With her final sentence she asks for those listening to take this opportunity to get involved; “Ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?”.