Voices rising for gender equality cannot be silenced. We are HeForShe.
By: UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Date: Friday, September 26, 2014
Gender inequality hurts us individually and it is a blight on our society. It is holding the 21st century back from development, peace and sustainability. There is a pandemic of violence directed against women. Girls are still less likely to finish school — or even go to secondary school — than boys in developing countries. Women make up some 40 per cent of the world’s work force, but they are yet to receive equal pay for equal work. Women are still chronically underrepresented in leadership positions in business and in government.
Last weekend at the United Nations, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson launched a powerful call for action. She asked men and boys everywhere to join UN Women’s HeforShe campaign, because gender equality is also a men’s issue.
HeForShe is a solidarity movement for men and boys to become advocates for gender equality. HeForShe is about freedom, as Emma said. It is about being free to make decisions and access education, justice, health and resources equally. HeForShe is about freedom from violence and discrimination based on gender. HeForShe is a movement for every man, everywhere. It comes at a time where inaction is simply not an option.
Soon after Emma spoke out for gender equality, countless voices were raised all over the globe, expressing their support and flooding the Internet. In parallel, we have seen an outpouring of outright hostile and sexist comments. A young woman stands up for freedom and for equality between men and women, and she is attacked. The debate this response has sparked online and in the news media has reinforced just how necessary it is to have a global, public dialogue on gender equality.
Threats like this do not impact celebrities alone. Thousands of women and girls suffer abuse and humiliation every day on the Internet and in the media. Sexism online and offline is also reinforced by stereotypes presented through TV and film.
This week, the first-ever global study on gender representation in films was launched by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, UN Women, The Rockefeller Foundation and the University of Southern California. Its findings include that women are highly sexualized in films and twice as likely as men to be shown in sexually revealing clothes or nude. Media is a powerful player in our lives. The persistence of inequality in films and media has a real impact on the minds and hearts of real people.
Emma’s voice, along with those of the millions of women and men who have chimed in to speak out for women’s empowerment, cannot be silenced. Gender equality and non-discrimination are the underpinnings of human rights. We are proud to work with Emma as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. Together, we stand with Emma for gender equality.
Stand with us. Go to https://www.heforshe.org right now and find out how you can become a HeForShe.
This Influencers blog was originally published on Linkedin:
A transcript of Emma Watson's speech is available here.