By Brittney MacDonald, Staff Writer
Announced September 20 at the UN in New York City, HeForShe is a campaign led by actress and UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson and CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer. The intention of the campaign is to encourage men to get involved in addressing instances of inequality and to vocalize the rights of women and girls.
According to the website’s (heforshe.org) mission statement, “The movement for gender equality was originally conceived as a struggle led only by women for women.
“Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity [men] in support of the other of humanity [women], for the entirety of humanity.”
What makes HeForShe different from other campaigns against gender inequality is the focus placed on male participation. In her speech to the UN senate, Watson called men the “ignored” population when it came to feminism and gender equality, and asked for their participation in a “formal invitation” stating that gender inequality is “your [men’s] issue too.”
Watson further explained that part of the HeForShe campaign’s goal is to achieve similar social understanding and justice regarding men’s issues as well as women’s. Watson cited men’s mental illness and soaring suicide rates as examples of why equality is necessary for men and women, as historical and ingrained social pressures and stereotypes have been detrimental to both sexes.
In the same speech Watson claims, “The more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” Watson defined HeForShe’s vision of feminism as, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
By making the issue of gender equality a unified effort, HeForShe hopes that it will have a greater impact on the world, especially in cultures or societies where women are not given political voice or agency.
HeForShe asks all men to sign a pledge that states that gender equality, “Is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue,” and promise their “participation” in defending women and girls against “violence and discrimination.” Their first goal was to get 100,000 signatures, but having now surpassed that number, they are looking towards worldwide participation.