Emma Watson's plea for equality wins men's support

The actress, who rose to fame as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies and who now serves as a UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador, launches HeForShe, a campaign to unite men and women for gender equality.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Actress Emma Watson (left) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are shown the way to the exit following a photo opportunity promoting the HeForShe campaign in New York Sept. 20, 2014.

British actress Emma Watson's plea for men to join the fight for equal rights for women has sparked a flood of pledges across the world, including from fellow celebrities and politicians.

Ms. Watson, 24, who rose to fame as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, gave her first major speech as a United Nations Women's Goodwill Ambassador in New York Sept. 20, launching the HeForShe campaign to unite men and women for gender equality.

The initiative urges men to join the fight against violence and discrimination of women and by 12:00 p.m EDT on Sept. 23 more than 70,000 men and boys had signed online pledges [Editor's note: 131,000 men by 9 a.m. EDT Sept. 25], according to the HeForShe online active map on the campaign's website.

The target is to mobilize 1 billion men and boys over 12 months with an online map showing exactly where men sign up.

"I hope we can all finally change laws and mentalities in order to establish what is nothing more than common sense," Watson posted on her Twitter account Sept. 23.

As the campaign gained momentum, men from all walks of life pledged to "take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls."

British actor Simon Pegg, known recently for playing Scotty in the Star Trek movies, tweeted: "Husband to a wife, father to a daughter, son to a mother. You bet I'm on board."

Organizers credited Watson's powerful speech for having such an impact and driving up numbers signing to the campaign.

"We are all very humbled by the numbers. I have to point out that Emma has been a very instrumental part ... her speech was so powerful," Elizabeth Nyamayaro, senior adviser to UN Women's executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Watson, who was appointed to the UN role in July, received a standing ovation as she called on men and women to reclaim feminism for the benefit of all.

She disclosed how she became a feminist after being told she was too "bossy" for wanting to direct a play at age eight.

"But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word," said Watson, who studied at Britain's Oxford University and Brown University in the United States. "I was appointed six months ago, and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop."

So far Watson has dedicated her humanitarian efforts as a Goodwill Ambassador to promote the empowerment of young women.

She has visited Bangladesh and Zambia to promote girls' education, and has recently returned from Uruguay.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said the engagement of young people was critical to advance gender equality in the 21st century.

"I am convinced that Emma's intellect and passion will enable UN Women's messages to reach the hearts and minds of young people globally," she said in a statement.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Emma Watson's plea for equality wins men's support
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today