Emma Watson at #HeForShe Launch: “Women need to be equal participants”

2014 was a ground-breaking year for feminism, and Emma Watson played a huge part in making that happen. In September 2014, Watson catapulted feminism into the forefront of the world’s collective consciousness when she announced her UN Women campaign #HeForShe.

It was the first time a celebrity spoke out on a global platform to tell the world that women need the support of men in order to achieve gender equality. It was the first time the world sat up and started listening to real discussions about gender equality. The #HeForShe conference was watched over 11 million times, sparking 1.2 billion social media conversations.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning, Watson officially launched a new year-long “IMPACT 10X10X10” plan  to “engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change positioned within some of the communities that most need to address deficiencies in women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

The Harry Potter star uttered the burning question  on everyone’s lips. The “what now?” How do we harness the incredible support garnered by #HeForShe and turn it into tangible change? “The truth is, the “what now” is down to you. What your #HeForShe commitment will be is personal and there is no best way. Everything is valid,” she said.

I spoke about some of my story in September, what are your stories? Girls: who have been your mentors. Parents: did you make sure you treated your children equally? If so, how have you done it? Husbands: have you been supporting your female partners privately so that she can fulfil her dreams too? Young men: have you spoken up in a conversation where a woman was degraded or dismissed? How did this affect you? How did this affect the woman you stepped up for?

So what is “IMPACT 10X10X10”? Well, quite simply, it’s about “concrete commitments to change” that are both measurable and visible.

Watson is clear in asserting the necessity for a united effort of individual actions, whether great or small, from lending support or advice to young women, to mentoring future world leaders. There is no act too small or too big in the fight for gender equality.

Watson ended her speech on an empowering note. “It is my belief that there is a greater understanding than ever that women need to be equal participants in our homes, in our societies, in our governments, and in our work places,” she said.

“They know that the world is being held back in every way, because they are not. Women share this planet 50/50 and they are under-represented, their potential astonishingly untapped.”


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