Emma Watson was named a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador earlier this summer. And though her association with Harry Potter continues to follow her (U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joked, “I hope you use your magic wand to end violence against women!”), she delivered a speech at the United Nations Saturday that should help end the perception she’s just the “Harry Potter girl,” as she said.
Launching the HeForShe campaign, the goal of which is motivating men and boys to end gender inequality, Watson, 24, spoke eloquently about the lingering misconceptions surrounding feminism. (You can find a full transcript of the speech here.)
“My recent research has shown me that ‘feminism’ has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists … Why has the word become such an unpopular one?” she asked.
“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.”
Watson highlighted the role men can take in ending gender inequality, stressing a message of inclusiveness: “Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”
She continued: “I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man … I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.”
U.N. head Ki-moon was counted as the “number one” man to sign up for the HeForShe campaign, which has a 12-month goal of getting one billion male advocates on board.
Watson capped off her speech with a powerful parting message: “In my nervousness for this speech and my moment of doubt, I told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when? … I invite you to step forward, to be seen and ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?”