What we can learn from Emma Watson's UN speech

Earlier this year, Emma Watson was made a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and yesterday she launched the “HeForShe” campaign, extending a formal invitation to men and boys to get onboard the movement toward gender equality.

In her speech to the United Nations, Watson called for an end to the idea that feminism is synonymous with man-hating.

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“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. Women are choosing not to identify as feminist. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive,” Watson considered.

“I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision making that affect my life. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”

Watson’s speech serves as a reminder, not only of her continuing awesomeness, but that feminism is not a dirty word that denotes a belief that women are better than men. She reminds us that gender equality is not about women versus men. Gender equality involves everyone.

She states that the ideas associated with traditional masculinity – as those with femininity – are extremely disabling. That, due to ideas of what constitutes a “man”, men also suffer at the hands of a society infected with gender-based discriminations.

Watson explains that the current notion of gender needs to be overhauled, for the sake of men and women:

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we just are – we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.”

I hope we can all consider our position and what we can do to help our communities move away from gender biases and discrimination, and remind each other that we are worthy of equal treatment in the home, in the media, on the streets and in the workplace.

Read a full transcript of Emma Watson’s speech here, and visit the HeForShe website for more info.

Image via Hollywood Life.