Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione, the bossy Harry Potter gal pal, delivered an impassioned speech to the United Nations on September 20th about feminism and the struggle for gender equality around the world. The speech was in honor of the launch of the HeForShe campaign in her role as United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador. The focus of the campaign is that feminism and supporting gender equality is not just a women’s issue but also a men’s issue – and it’s time that men get on board. Watson said “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. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. 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.”
If you haven’t heard the speech, it is worth your time to listen to what she had to say. Although I find her words and delivery compelling, I think what is truly compelling is that a twenty something year old woman that has just finished college can be such a strong voice for feminism. It is also compelling to hear her share that in spite of her privileged upbringing that gender inequality has still touched her life. The speech has been all over the Internet and social media. CNN reported that Watson gave feminism a new life. Vanity Fair wrote that Watson Delivered a Game-Changing Speech on Feminism.
And Emma Watson is not the only star throwing their hat in the ring. Beyonce made a strong statement in support of feminism at MTV’s Video Music Awards. During her performance, she had the word FEMINIST in huge letters behind her in the back of the stage. And the statement she made spread in the media like wildfire. Feminism is the new “It girl.” The Huffington Post reported on the phenomenon in an article titled Beyonce’s Feminist VMAs Performance Got People Talking About Gender Equality.
Obviously both of these women bring star power to the feminist cause and they have the power to engage the world in the conversation. We continue to need more and more women and men like them to stand up. But their voices are not the only ones that can effect true change; each of us must stand up and courageously say we support gender equality and feminism. I hope you’ll join the movement!