Over the weekend, Emma Watson delivered an inspired speech at the United Nations Headquarters to promote a gender equality initiative called He For She, and to discuss the importance of feminism. Her compelling, poignant speech earned the 24-year-old actress and humanitarian a standing ovation, and has been dubbed a “game-changer” by myriad publications.
In the speech, Watson discussed why feminism was a natural choice for her, and why it is a loaded term for others. She said, “I decided that I was a feminist. 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 feminists. Apparently, [feminists are] seen as too strong, too aggressive, anti-men, unattractive,” of the reasons many men and women rebuff this term and its ideologies. On the contrary, Watson explains, feminism is, at its core, the belief in the equality of the sexes.
In one of the most inspired portions of the speech, Watson asks the audience, “Why has the word become such an unpopular one?” She goes on to explain, “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,” listing examples of gender inequality that women around the world face each and every day.
For years, Emma Watson has been adored by audiences around the world for her performances in major motion pictures. Millions of people have seen her perform as an actress, but few have seen her address an audience like she did in her recent speech. As a newly appointed UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, Watson now has a platform to address social injustices such as gender inequality. If her passionate delivery this past weekend was any indication of what we can expect to see from the young feminist, it’s safe to say that she will be instrumental in creating social change.