From Emma Watson’s UN HeForShe campaign, to Prince Harry’s CHIME for Change appearance, to Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar speech for her Best Supporting Actress win, it seems that celebrities are talking more than ever about taking action for equal gender rights.
'To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America,' said Arquette when receiving her Oscar, prompting actors including Meryl Streep to leap out of her chair in celebration and support of her message.
These speeches are indeed important – millions of people around the world take note of the Oscars, be it to celebrate the filmography, the fashion, or the gossip from the after parties – and Arquette used her speech to throw an important issue into the spotlight. It certainly was rousing. But actions often speak louder than words. So, are these spotlight speeches having any real effect on the state of gender inequality around the world? Are we just saying, and not doing?
In Emma Watson’s most recent UN speech she explained the next stage of the HeForShe campaign calls for visible, concrete commitments, through the new IMPACT 10X10X10 plan, urging governments, corporations and those in positions of power, in the media or the business world to act as ‘instruments of change’. Put like this, it might seem at our grassroots level that we are powerless.
So how can we, as individuals, ensure equal pay in the workplace? How can one person stop issues such as FGM, or change the fact that marital rape is still not illegal in certain countries? Watson asked this of herself too, in her initial UN speech. She answered, 'If not me, who? If not now, when?'
The IMPACT 10X10X10 plan also urged us to share our personal HeForShe stories. At Psychologies we have promoted numerous campaigns for gender equality, including the new This Girl Can sports campaign, Wateraid’s To Be A Girl campaign, and Lucy-Anne Holmes' ongoing journey to end national newspaper The Sun’s Page 3.
At home, we have shared housework and asked for support in our careers, and have experienced how actions taken by our partners have created more equal, enjoyable home lives for every member of the family. We have taken action in consciously choosing to be more aware of our partner’s needs and rights to express emotion as men, resulting in interesting conversations, a deeper understanding of each other and stronger relationships.
These may only be small, grassroot actions. But they are actions that have lead from words such as Watson’s and Arquette’s. Words such as 'If not me, who? If not now, when?'