Emma Watson Makes Strides Toward Gender Equality with “HeForShe”


Emma Watson speaks about HeForShe campaign

Meghan O'Meara

Emma Watson speaks about HeForShe campaign
Emma Watson speaks about her HeForShe campaign

Emma Watson, famous actress and United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, delivered a speech at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 20. She spoke about feminism, specifically the need for men to join the movement for gender equality, as well as a newly launched campaign called HeForShe.

The goal of the HeForShe campaign, Watson says, is to “galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality.” She stresses that gender equality is as much of a concern to men as it is to women. Statistics show that in the United Kingdom, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; transcending road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. According to Watson, the reason men are often uncomfortable with being themselves is because they too are imprisoned by gender stereotypes.

In today’s society men are expected to have a rough exterior and show little emotion. They are expected to be strong and controlling, which causes women to be seen as weak and submissive. Watson says that society has belittled a man’s role as a parent by labeling caretaking a woman’s job. “I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s,” says Watson.

In her speech, Watson addresses the negative connotation of the word “feminism.” She gives the dictionary definition—the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities— and contrasts it with the meaning that the word has in our culture today. She says, “the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.” Watson emphasizes the point that feminists do not have to be anti-men, they just have to be pro-women.

Watson calls for both men and women to join the gender equality movement not only in her speech, but also through social media. Specifically on Twitter, a myriad of well known men and women have been showing their support. “This is not just about women, we men need to recognize the part we play too,” says Prince Harry. First Lady Michelle Obama also advocated for gender equality on twitter. She says, “It’s about whether fathers—and mothers—think their daughters are as worthy of an education as their sons.”

Watson concluded her speech by encouraging people everywhere to ask themselves the same thing that she asks herself when she doubts her ability to make a difference: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”