Our Power issue is out this month – exploring the ‘new female power’ with Hillary Clinton leading from the front as our cover star.
That’s why we are on our feet applauding actress Emma Watson for her stirring speech for the UN this week.
The Harry Potter star has launched a United Nations equality campaign in New York called HeForShe, in her capacity as UN women goodwill ambassador.
“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 is in good company. “Feminism is needed,” says Hillary Clinton, in our cover interview this month. “ I always say yes when people ask : Are you a feminist?” If you look at the dictionary meaning, it is someone someone who believes in the full and equal participation of women in the economy, in society, in politics, in every aspect of our lives together.”
Watson is working with The United Nations agency to launch a global campaign to get 100,000 men and boys involved in the fight to achieve gender equality.
She is encouraging us all to step up, be seen. Together we can make a difference. “You might think: who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the UN? I’ve been asking myself the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel it is my responsibility to say something. Statesman Edmund Burke said, ‘all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing’.
In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I told myself firmly: if not me, who? If not now, when?”
She extends her invitation to both men and women. “Men, I would like to give 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. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and heart disease. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by 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. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
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 see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are.’
And so say all of us.
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