ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Emma Watson hasn't taken her role as UN ambassador lightly - she's channeling Hermione to highlight the inequalities we shockingly still face in 2014.

The British actress spoke out at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Saturday to dispel misconceptions about feminism as "man hating" while encouraging more men to advocate gender equality.

Emma Watson at the U.N.
Emma Watson at the U.N.

In her speech Watson explained how she became a feminist at age 8 when she was told she was too "bossy" to direct a school play and realized she was being treated differently to boys who were eager to take on a leadership role.

Although identifying as a feminist was a straightforward decision for Watson, she was shocked to find that society associated it with being "too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men, unattractive".

In an intelligent and impassioned delivery, Watson explained how this is no time to get complacent about women's rights because there is so much more to achieve. She explained:

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized 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.

For the record, feminism by definition is: "The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."

Although Watson was clearly choked with emotion at some points during her speech, the 24-year-old actress was cheered on by the audience when she started to falter.

Watson cracks a smile at cheers from the crowd
Watson cracks a smile at cheers from the crowd

Emma Watson went on to explain how she has been sexualized in some segments of the media from the tender age of 14 and how gender stereotypes left her male friends unable to express their emotions when they reached the cusp of adulthood.

Watson was clearly choked as she relived experiences of injustice
Watson was clearly choked as she relived experiences of injustice

Watson's 11 minute long speech covered issues such as women still being paid less than men in developed countries like Britain and the lack of female representation in political circles.

Watson made it clear that she recognizes that she is a privileged woman compared to many others in the world, which makes the global fight for equality even more important:

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality. These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn't love me less because I was born a daughter.
They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are changing the world today... Not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically very few have been.

Although feminism is often mistaken as exclusively a woman's issue, the former Harry Potter star made sure to include the other 50 percent of the world's population: Men.

Watson spoke with gravitas about how gender stereotypes are toxic for everyone and extended a formal invitation to invite men to feel more accepted in feminist circles. She explained:

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.
Because to date, I've seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.
I've seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I've seen men made 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 that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.
Men applaud as Watson invites them into the fold
Men applaud as Watson invites them into the fold

Watson rounded off her speech with a self depreciating reference to her Harry Potter days

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing.
I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

Before leaving the podium to a standing ovation from the audience

You can watch the video of the entire speech below:

Emma Watson for president, anyone?


Were you moved by Emma Watson's speech?

(Source: Buzzfeed)


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