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Published on January 25th, 2015 | by Elodie Gooden

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Emma Watson spruiks ‘He For She’ at the World Economic Forum

Emma Watson, grown-up child actor and the brightest witch of her age, has made another speech on women’s rights at a conference in Davos, Switzerland. Her role as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women has seen her make a so-called “game-changing” speech last September, which trended worldwide.

She also launched a year-long plan called “IMPACT 10X10X10” which will work to engage governments, businesses and universities to further women’s rights. Ms. Watson is also seeking personal tales and contributions online to continue the social media conversation, in a manner similar to the already successful Everyday Sexism campaign from Britain.

Her “He for She” campaign has garnered the support of many who are equally as famous and rich as she, and she named them at her WEF press conference: Desmond Tutu, Hillary Clinton, Prince Harry and Yoko Ono.

As such, controversy follows Ms. Watson in her endeavours, as some feminists found her first speech – while good intentioned- to misrepresent their feminism, by inviting men to participate. It is also reflected in Barack Obama’s quote, featured on Ms. Watson’s He For She website:

“We’ve got to make sure that somebody is standing up for [women}.”

As if we cannot stand up for ourselves.

But Ms. Watson addressed some of this feedback in the Davos speech, stating that while the positive responses to her speech had “stunned” her, some men had signed her petition and then queried, “What now?”

This is a fair point – her website and bid for signatures seemed to represent a kind of tokenistic clicktivism rather than qualifying as real change. But Ms. Watson countered rationally that men have to go it alone in their personal fight against sexism.

She also addressed the faint stink of self-congratulation in her previous speech, which saw her say “If not me, who?” rather than credit the contributions of hard-working feminists before her. But in Davos she acknowledged that perhaps she alone was not responsible for the (arguably) growing concern over gender inequality. “The ground was fertile” she conceded with a smile.

Her most powerful sentiment:

“Women share this planet 50/50, and they are underrepresented; their potential astonishingly untapped.”

Less convincing is her belief in the need for “hundreds of universities and corporations to follow HeForShe’s IMPACT 10X10X10 so as to bring an end to the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.”

I’m afraid I’m not sure it’s so simple.

 

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About the Author

Elodie Gooden

Elodie is a fourth-year student of International Studies and Communication and Media Studies, and the Secretary of the University of Wollongong's Feminist Society.



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