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377px-Emma_Watson_2013I thoroughly enjoyed actress Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality which launched the United Nations’ HeForShe campaign to end gender inequality. What a bold move to ask a young role model to stand up and speak directly at all men, young and old.

Watson was a great choice, since her younger fans can be encouraged to join the conversation that hopefully helps bring more positive changes across the world.

Many have commented that her speech didn’t touch on anything that we haven’t heard before. Others write that she’s not a “game changer” because “many men are already supporting women”  in the fight against inequalities and discrimination.

Keeping The Conversation Going

Even if it were so, I don’t think the deja-vu really matters that much. What matters now is that everyone’s talking about it, Watson’s young fans have listened to her message and more men have committed to the movement since she delivered her speech. From what I could see on the HeForShe’s website, more than 9,095 men in Australia (189,309 worldwide) had already committed to the movement by 5 November.

They pledged that “gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.”

The fact that more people are talking about inequalities and discrimination and more men are joining the movement is positive enough to give us more hope.

Watson’s speech wasn’t only speaking to men but also reminds all women who are fighting for the cause that we need to invite men to join the conversation and stand up for women.

I’m talking about independent groups or even employers who have encouraged women to form groups in the workplace to help address these issues. Perhaps many groups only consist of women and they never asked male colleagues to sit in and help voice their messages.

  • How many have stood up and said “Hey, John. We would like you to help us make things progress faster. Jump in and help us row this boat”?
  • We can’t sit around and expect men to come forward if we don’t explain to them how much of a difference their voices can make.
  • We can’t expect it to be the first issue men would think about when they wake up each day. Some might think there’s no real benefit for them… directly, therefore why fight for a right they already have.
  • We can’t expect men to ‘need’ to fight for equality for themselves today if they can’t see the barriers inequality is causing for the women in their lives.
  • As the women closest to them, we must show and influence them and show that the changes they help create today can benefit their daughters, their wives, their grandchildren and their sisters tomorrow.
  • As women, we must end the ‘stereotype imprisonment’ of men. Not all men believe that men are superior, not all men treat women unfairly and not all men use violence against women.

We also need to speak for other women in countries where women don’t have a voice due to the religious or dictatorship controls imposed on them. If we want the world to be equal, we need to stand up for all women, not just those in our own communities. We need to get involved and raise our voices, globally.

The message is clear – we cannot achieve gender equality without men being supportive and involved in the conversation, but we also cannot achieve this without women supporting other women

 

Links:

You can watch the speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk

And join the HeForShe Campaign here: http://www.heforshe.org/

Over to you now…

What are your thoughts on Emma Watson’s speech? Do you know any men who have joined the movement?

 

Image attribution: Georges Biard