Society and Culture

HeForShe: Emma Watson Does It Again

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“Women share this planet 50-50, and they are under-represented; their potential astonishingly untapped.”

So said Emma Watson, United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday. The young diplomat most recognized for her role in the Harry Potter franchise was speaking partly in regard to HeForShe’s new initiative, and partly to give thanks for the immense support HeForShe has received since her speech in September.

“I think it would be fair to say that my colleagues and I have been stunned by the response,” Watson said. “The HeForShe conference was watched over 11 million times, sparking 1.2 billion social media conversations, culminating in the HeForShe hashtag becoming so popular that Twitter painted it on the walls of its headquarters.”

Adding to that, Watson shared that men from “almost every country in the world” had signed on to help in HeForShe’s effort.

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These are staggering numbers and encouraging statistics, but Watson went on to articulate that now is the time to act on our words of commitment. Being the masterful orator that she is, after thanking the masses who have responded to the campaign thus far, she used that gratitude to call us to action once more.

The initiative UN Women was there to launch is called IMPACT 10x10x10, which the UN describes as an effort to “engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change positioned within some of the communities that most need to address deficiencies in women’s empowerment and gender equality.”  Watson added that beyond “concrete commitments” to women gaining equal ground, she wanted “to hear from the human beings” within the organizations targeted:

I spoke about some of my story in September – what are your stories? Girls, who have been your mentors? Parents, did you make sure you treated your children equally?…Husbands, have you been supporting your female partner privately so that she can fulfill her dreams too?…Writers, have you challenged the language and imagery used to portray women in the media? CEOs, have you implemented the women’s empowerment principles in your own company?

These are powerful questions with undoubtedly powerful responses. How have we answered Watson’s call from September? Did we simply retweet with “#HeForShe,” or have we taken steps against the inequality we all see on a daily basis? It is not enough to simply say you support the cause. You must, in your daily actions and conversations, consciously implement your support.

Watson went on to share that many have verbally committed to HeForShe’s campaign, but have been unsure about how to proceed. “Men say they’ve signed the petition, what now? The truth is the ‘what now’ is down to you.”

Each of us has a different life and different ways in which we can impact the fight for gender equality. Any way you help, as Watson points out, “is valid” and helpful. Take a moment to think about what happens in your life on a day-to-day basis. How have you seen women degraded or discriminated against? How has the language you use been affected by a patriarchal society? Decide what you can do to change the answers to these questions. The answer is never “nothing.” That’s how you can initiate HeForShe in your life.

Morgan McMurray
Morgan McMurray is an editor and gender equality blogger based in Seattle, Washington. A 2013 graduate of Iowa State University, she has a Bachelor of Arts in English, Journalism, and International Studies. She spends her free time writing, reading, teaching dance classes, and binge-watching Netflix. Contact Morgan at



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