Emma Watson on Feminism
"Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting." – Emma Watson
Emma Watson is well known for her various onscreen roles in blockbuster films such as “The beauty and the beast”, “Noah” or the popular “Harry Potter” series. But she has recently taken on a greater and more demanding role, in which she flourishes equally. Activist.
Her early years
Watson was born on April 15th, 1990 in Paris and brought up in Oxfordshire. She trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts to pursue her dream of becoming an actress.
At the age of sixteen, Emma started a feminist book club called “our shared self” with the aim of sharing feminist ideas.
Her first role as “Hermione Granger” in the Harry Potter series earned her worldwide fame. She has since appeared in many blockbuster films such as ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘Noah’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In spite of her demanding professional life, Emma studied English Literature at Brown.
"The entertainment industry is pretty nuts, and having had that experience outside of it and going to university has really made a big difference. It's important to me to feel like I have my own life" – Emma Watson
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador
2014 was an important year for Emma. She graduated from Brown and was awarded British Artist of the Year. Later that year, she helped launch the UN Women campaign ‘HerForShe’ which calls for men to advocate gender equality and was appointed UN Women Goodwill ambassador.
“Being asked to serve as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling,” said Emma. “The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given… I have no intention of taking this lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience, and awareness to this role.”
On gender equality
“In order to achieve gender equality, harmful and destructive stereotypes of masculinity and behavioural expectations for boys and men have got to change.” She added, “The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realised 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.”
Inviting men to join the movement
“For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes… Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend you a formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too. 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, instead of two sets of opposing ideas. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be free, and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.”
Double standards women face at university
As a university graduate herself, she turned attention to the double standards and sexual assault many women face at universities.
“The university experience must tell women that their brainpower is valued, and not just that, but that they belong among the leadership of the university itself. And so importantly, right now, the experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable is a right and not a privilege. A right that will be respected by a community that believes and supports survivors. And that recognises that when one person's safety is violated, everyone feels that their own safety is violated. A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence” she said. “That's why we believe that students should leave university believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality. Societies of true equality in every sense, and that universities have the power to be a vital catalyst for that change” she added.
Flying to Malawi to end child marriage
On the eve of International Day of the Girl Child, Emma visited Malawi to speak up against child marriage. She was able to annul hundreds of child marriages, sending the girls back to school with the help of local chiefs and religious leaders. “It’s so encouraging to see how such a harmful practice can be stopped when communities work together to pass laws and then turn those laws into reality" she said.
Visiting Bangladesh and Zambia to promote girls’ education
Emma visited slums areas as well as many homes of garment factory workers in Bangladesh and Zambia to speak about the value of educating girls.
Her trip to Uruguay to speak about the importance of women's vote
In Uruguay, Emma spoke about the importance of the political participation of women. “Women must have a say in matters that affect their countries, communities, and families. After all, they are half of the population, so women’s equal participation in decision-making is a question of justice and democracy,” said Watson.
Emma Watson, amongst the world's most influential people
Emma Watson serves as a role model for millions of people. She is amongst the handful of celebrities who inspires both teenagers and adults.
In 2015, she was number 26 on the TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. Her fans often refer to her as "A great feminist." “She uses the power and fame she gained from the Harry Potter series to speak about important issues like feminism” said one of her fans.
"I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about." – Emma Watson