Emma Watson at the UN

By David Michael Newstead.

Emma Watson recently helped launch the HeForShe campaign during a speech at the United Nations. The English actress discussed gender issues and the importance of involving men in advancing the rights of women across the world. In her speech, she talked about her own evolving understanding of feminism over the years as well as stark problems with masculinity as it is conventionally defined. For men, this touched on topics that are usually caught in our collective blind spot: limited parenting roles, coping with emotions, and sky high suicide rates among men 20 to 49 years old. Watson went on to draw a distinction between women’s rights and man-hating, while also addressing the reality that even among women feminism can be an unpopular word. But in the absence of equality around the world, gender dynamics enter into a downward spiral that leads nowhere, except to lost opportunities and the most horrific abuses. Watson’s speech was the start of one solution to that. HeForShe is a UN campaign that seeks to “put men at the center of activism and dialogue to end persistent inequalities faced by women and girls”. This includes problems such as violence against women and restricted access to education, among many others. The severity of these inequalities may vary depending on the country, but the problems themselves are often disturbingly similar. As a result, men everywhere are able to help in some way. HeForShe is part of that larger effort, but it’s an idea that has to outlast any single campaign. To learn more, check out the links below.