By Jenni Ryall
Actress Emma Watson has made a powerful speech for the United Nations on gender, which has sent waves across the world.
The 24-year-old “Harry Potter girl” and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador launched HeForShe Campaign, a U.N. Movement for Gender Equality, on Saturday in New York.
It was hoped her magic wand could be used to stop violence against women and help fight the fight for gender equality, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said when he introduced the star.
In her speech, Watson detailed her foray into the world of feminism when she was labeled “bossy” at eight years old, sexualized by the press at 14 and watched her friends drop out of sports at 15.
“I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me … Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and unattractive,” she said.
The British star said the association between feminism and man-hating had to end or equality would remain a far-off dream.
“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 of my country. 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 said.
“No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.”
In the moving speech, Watson extended a formal invitation for men and boys to get on board with gender equality.
“If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled,” she said.
“If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.
“I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too — reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.”
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