24th September 2014
"In 1997, Hillary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly, many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today. But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feels welcome to participate in the conversation?
Men – I’d like to take this opportunity to extend to you a 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 aged between 20 and 49. 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 they are and that 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 perceive gender on a spectrum – not as two opposing sets of ideals.
If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are, we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.
I want men to take up this mantle, so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice. But also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too – to reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more complete version of themselves.”
- Emma Watson on Gender Equality. Read more here!