UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson recently launched the HeForShe campaign at UN Women Headquarters in New York, calling on all men to participate in global efforts towards ending gender inequality. Defined as a “solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity for the entirety of humanity,” HeForShe asks men to pledge their solidarity and join more than 20,000 men from around the world who have done so. In a moving speech, Watson describes the ways in which gender inequality has personally affected her, how “feminism” has become a dirty word and why men must work towards equality today for a better tomorrow.
This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.
I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.
When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.
When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”
When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.
I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.
How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?
Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.
We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.