By Mary Cranston
Emma Watson has sure made a significant name for herself, making it difficult to classify her as the “Harry Potter girl.”
Not only is she a wildly talented actress. She has declared a memorable purpose on this earth and is making history.
On September 18th 2014, the British actress visited her first country as a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, Uruguay. Her mission was to highlight the need for women’s political participation as the country prepares for elections with a first-ever national quota law guaranteeing 30% of women’s representation. While there, she also delivered a 4,000 signature petition.
“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,” Ms. Watson said in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.
Globally, women’s political participation remains low, with only one in five parliamentarians being a woman. In Uruguay, in spite of efforts, women’s representation in Parliament stands at 13.1 percent, placing the country at 103rd in the world ranking of women in politics by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, which is below the world average (21.8 percent).
On Saturday September 20th, Ms. Watson received a standing ovation for her speech at UN Headquarters in New York City. Her attempt was to fight the negative connotations associated with the word “feminism.” The 24-year-old actress believes the perception of the word has changed, and those who identify themselves as feminists are seen as “anti-men” and “aggressive.”
Declaring herself a feminist, she spoke on behalf of a special event for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. The event aims to kick-start one of the largest movements of the 21st century for the achievement of gender equality by calling upon half of humanity in support of the other half.
According to UN Women, over the next 12 months the HeForShe campaign plans to mobilize one billion men and boys as advocates.
“Men, I would like to give this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too. Because to date, I have seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I have seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man. According to statistics in the United Kingdom, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20- 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and heart disease. I have seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either,” Watson declared.
Finally, someone has vocalized how gender equality is a cause from which both genders suffer. Watson’s speech has come at such an important time in the world and it is time for men to take action on behalf of feminism.