Emma Watson proved she was no ordinary child actor when she took time out of her career to get her degree in English Lit from Brown University and now she's showing her political side with a recent speech to the United Nations about gender equality to help launch their HeForShe campaign.
This is a cause she's been passionate about for years. At just eight years old Emma started to notice the differences in how girls and boys were treated when she was called "bossy" for wanting to direct plays. And it only got more pronounced as she got older: "At 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press. At 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear 'muscly.' At 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings."
What we call "women's rights" are really "human rights" and we have a long ways to go in achieving that, she explained. "I 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."
Pointing out that men can be imprisoned by gender stereotypes just like women, she emphasizes this isn't about pitting men against women or saying one is better than the other. "We want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality," she says, adding, "How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?"
Putting men and women on the same side could affect a lot of positive change. "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. 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 not as two opposing sets of ideals."
Emma concluded her speech with a call to action so ultimately "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."
She admitted that she was nervous to give the speech, thinking that people would wonder what this Harry Potter actress was doing at the U.N., but after this we can't wait to hear more of what this smart, passionate, activist actress has to say!