Earlier this summer, soon after her college graduation, Emma Watson was named as U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. The actress’s involvement in women rights can be seen over the past few months online (using Twitter to denounce a sexist politician in Turkey, response to the gender politics of the recent celebrity nude photo hack or crashing the U.N. website).
Although the Harry Potter fame continues to follow her, her speech at the United Nations on Saturday should end the perception that she is just the ‘Harry Potter Girl’.
Watson, 24, spoke eloquently about the misconceptions and negativity surrounding feminism while launching the HeForShe campaign. The goal of this campaign is to motivate boys and men to end gender inequality which women face globally.
“My recent research has shown me that ‘feminism’ has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive. Why has the word become such an unpopular one?”
Describing herself as a feminist, Watson asks the guests why the word brings such negative notions with it. “I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
“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.”
“Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”
“I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.”
She ends her powerful speech with a strong message: “In my nervousness for this speech and my moment of doubt, I told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when? I invite you to step forward, to be seen and ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?”
BY EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/GETTY IMAGES