Emma Watson appeared before the United Nations Headquarters in New York a week ago to give one of the most impassioned and empowering speech I’ve ever heard. Back in July, she was appointed the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. And since then, she has been taking her new role very seriously – visiting various nations, such as Zambia and Bangladesh, that struggle with this issue, taking poll of the current situation and imagining ways we can combat that and inspire change.
Her solution? A new UN initiative called HeForShe.
In her UN speech, Watson talked about the perception versus the actual definition of feminism, which should be as simple as,
“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.”
Instead, Watson explains how the few brave women, like herself, who do identify as feminists are considered “too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even.”
How we are as strong women supposed to stand up and speak up if we are immediately judged for the fact that we even stood up in the first place? But then again, the very fact that this is happening is also proof that gender equality is still a very real issue.
But what was particularly unique about Watson’s speech was when, half-way through, she extended a formal invitation to the men in the room to join in this quest. Her point? That being pro-women shouldn’t mean being anti-men, and that men need to be a part of the conversation in order for real change to happen. Or as she put it,
“…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.”
Watson also points out that men themselves have a right to, and don’t always receive, these basic human rights that are also shockingly lacking for women in the world — which for men means feeling like they can be vulnerable and ask for help without compromising what constitutes them as a man.
Isn’t that the truth?
Gender equality is everyone’s issue – men’s and women’s – so it should really be treated as such. That’s what HeForShe is all about. And I personally will be doing my part to “take up this mantle” as Watson encourages.
If Emma Watson, a 24-year old actress who might seem like an unlikely ambassador, can stand up and speak out despite people wondering “Who is this “Harry Potter” girl? What is she doing at the UN?” – then you and I can too!
It is our duty as human beings. It is our duty as Tough Cookies.
And to quote Watson’s speech one last time, here’s precisely why:
“All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel it is my responsibility to say something. Statesman Edmund Burke said all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”
Watch Emma Watson’s full UN speech here, and prepare to be moved:
Then watch the HeForShe campaign video to learn more about how you can get involved:
Source: Huffington Post