“If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Emma Watson. Most people know her as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, based on the seven books written by bestselling author J.K. Rowling.
But today let’s talk about this young actress for other merits, in particular for her activity at the United Nations as Goodwill Ambassador.
It is quite infrequent that a young woman of such great success like the British actress, who got also a degree in English Literature at Brown University, gives such an impressive contribution to a noble cause.
She has never hidden the fact that the proximity and the constant presence of her family and their values have helped her to become a brilliant young woman, who with great humility makes her contribution to Society, becoming an icon for women all over the world, engaging personally, despite some threats and insults.
On 20 September 2014 Emma Watson, in her speech at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, pointed out:
“My parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are changing the world today. And we need more of those.
And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.”
This speech made me realize: we become part of the reality that surrounds us.
If people around us do believe in us and are able to see our potential, than we will have more possibilities to develop ourselves and become what we want to become, realizing our personal and professional goals, being, day after day, who we deserve to be; so our efforts and daily sacrifices will be properly rewarded.
That is why every woman should have the right to display their skills as best as they can, being able to develop their potential and live their lives in freedom, demanding respect from others, but mostly from themselves.
Generally speaking, Emma says that it is also essential to send a clear message to teenagers, strongly committing to education for Bangladeshi girls, helping them developing their self-confidence, which is definitely hard in underdeveloped countries, but also, unfortunately, in our country.
However, this worldwide campaign affects not only women or what men can do for them, but with HeForShe men become protagonists.
In her speech, Watson claims to be a feminist, but also explains what the meaning of this word is: Feminism is absolutely not “predominance” of the female gender, but rather willingness to achieve equality, equal rights but also equal duties; Ms Watson requests men to work together and do something real to make it happen, because gender equality is everybody’s issue.
Among the male figures, who have joined with enthusiasm the HeForShe campaign, are Barack Obama, Matt Damon, Shinze Abe and many others. Even Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, known for her commitment to the affirmation of civil rights and the right to education; the young girl has also been interviewed by Emma Watson.
In Italy we have Pietro Grasso, President of the Senate, who also spoke during a meeting about the HeforShe campaign, Giovanni Malago, president of CONI, and for Italian football fans, Giovanni Trapattoni.
Gender equality is also a benefit for men, because stereotypes and prejudices poison society with considerable social and human cost.
Forced by society to be always strong, in an apparent spiral of strength and masculinity that does not allow them to pull out of their weakness and fragility in order to overcome them, being constantly considered the stronger ones.
So, what can we do? What can each of us do to turn things around?
Each of us can do something against gender discrimination in everyday life, through their work, changing the way you see women and address them. You can easily promote HeForShe on Facebook and Twitter and stay up to date on everything.
The deeply-rooted view of women as sexual objects is a prejudice which only obscures the development of society in general.
We must learn to define each other by what we really are.
Unfortunately, the inequalities take place every day and everywhere; let’s consider salaries: often they vary greatly, always at the expense of women. And without even realizing it, behaviors and choices are influenced, leading women to choose between career and family, or to justify the difference in pay; also remember the fact that often women, for personal choices but also forced by necessity, carry on two jobs, sometimes without anyone’s help.
Of course, compared to the past, even the recent past when it was unthinkable for a woman to have important roles at institutional level, a big step forward has been made; but it is not enough.
In Italy there hasn’t been yet the expected success like in other countries.
Emma Watson talks about her own experience, her memories, considers herself definitely a lucky person, privileged, but encourages each of us to do something real.
And unlike other campaigns, HeForShe is focused on the male figure:
“He for She ..”.
This campaign aims to help also men, because they need to be freed from stereotypes.
“If not me, who? If not now, when? When there is the opportunity.”
This is the response of the young actress. And we must be grateful for her contribution in exposing herself in defense of the rights of women and men all over the world, addressing a heartfelt plea for help and daily collaboration.