At just 24 years old, Emma Watson has made a name for herself as an actress, humanitarian, and as a feminist. As a recently appointed United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, Watson combines those three roles to raise awareness about vital causes, advocate for women globally, and fight social injustices. Over the weekend, Watson gave an incredibly compelling speech at the UN’s New York headquarters that highlighted the importance of feminism and promoted the UN Women’s He for She campaign.
He for She is “a campaign in which men all over the world are being encouraged to speak out against the inequalities faced by women and girls.” It’s an initiative to invite men to participate in feminist discourse, become allies, and fight gender inequality. In her speech, Watson addresses the fact that contrary to popular belief, feminism is not in fact a series of man-hating ideologies – quite the opposite, in fact. In her speech Watson explains, “for the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” of the actual definition of the term.
Watson asks the question that countless feminists have asked themselves and each other: “Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one?” Instead of outright rejecting it, Watson implores men and women to get active in the ongoing fight for global gender inequality. She invites her audience, particularly the men, to take part in the He for She campaign, and to become allies to women as they pursue equal access to education, work, healthcare, and more.
One of the most compelling – and my personal favorite – moments in her speech is when Watson says, “I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” pointing out all of the ways women around the world are continually denied access to these basic rights.
I am looking forward to more appearances from Emma Watson in which she stresses the need for gender equality. I think many can agree that the beloved young actress has become an even more inspiring feminist.
Read a full transcript of the speech here.