Emma Watson, a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, cohosted and spoke at the ‘HeForShe’ campaign event at the UN Headquarters in New York City on Saturday, September 20.
U N Women advocates for gender equality and the organization’s newest campaign encourages men to speak up against global gender inequality.
The 24-year-old actress, best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, has long been a self-identified feminist. Her journey began at a young age when she was called “bossy” for wanting to take leadership positions. Watson’s ideals were further shaped as she grew up watching her female friends hold themselves back from anything considered masculine and her male friends preventing themselves from expressing their feelings.
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A few months ago, she took her role in the UN, and earlier in September she visited Uruguay to learn about the participation of women in politics there.
In Watson’s speech, she called on men to join the movement “so their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.”
She asserted that feminists will never get anywhere if only half of the world’s population is participating in the conversation of the inequality that harms both genders. Furthermore, Watson believes the idea that feminism is synonymous with man-hating has to stop. She said the definition actually includes anyone who helps women and girls achieve their full potential.
She appealed to men by discussing the gender stereotypes they face to be strong and masculine. If they join the fight, then everyone can benefit. Watson explained in her speech that earned her a standing ovation, “If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended Watson for what she’s done with UN Women, claiming that she’s been waving a magic wand.
Then he commented on the importance of the ‘HeForShe’ campaign. “We need to say to men and boys: Do not raise your hands in violence – raise your voices to stop it – and to support human rights for all.”
Watson concluded her speech with one last push for men to join the campaign. “I invite you to step forward, to be seen, and ask yourself: if not me, who? If not now, when?