You would have had to have been on vacation to Mars or at an intense digital detox/silent retreat to have missed Emma Watson’s inspiring UN Speech back in September 2014. The HeforShe campaign blew up over Twitter and the wider media, giving a new, updated vocabulary for the gender equality campaign. It spoke to men and women; it made both sexes accountable for equal participation of both genders in society, and flagged up the ugly side of sexual discrimination for males and females alike.
Yet, actions speak louder than words, and in Emma’s most recent speech she explains the HeForShe campaign is calling for visible, concrete commitments, through the new IMPACT 10X10X10 plan, urging governments, corporations and those in positions of power, in the media or the business world to act as ‘instruments of change’. Watch the speech below:
And she asked for our stories; to share our personal HeForShe campaigns, describing a fan that recently told her since watching her speech, she has managed to stop her father from beating her.
Which got me thinking. I watched her first speech numerous times. I discussed it with colleagues and friends and loved ones. I believe in it and advocate it. But I had done anything about it? Had my actions spoken louder than my words?
After some careful consideration, I’d like to think yes, in a small way. I have used my skills as a writer and my position as dossier editor at Psychologies to write about numerous campaigns that promote the equality of gender in society around the world, including the new This Girl Can campaign, which inspires women to be more active for the fun of it, loving our bodies rather than hating them. We’ve raised awareness for Wateraid’s To Be A Girl campaign, which fundraised £2 million to bring safe water and sanitation to over 130,000 girls and their families around the world, a chore that previously took girls away from playing and their education. And we also interviewed fascinating and inspiring women such as Lucy-Anne Holmes on her journey to end the out of date and sexualised images of topless women in page 3 of national newspaper, The Sun.
I brought HeForShe into my own relationship; I have been more aware of my partner’s need and right to express emotions as a man, and I ask him more about how he feels, which has resulted in some really interesting conversations and a deeper relationship and understanding of each other.
And I have also experienced how powerful actions are. After recently starting a new course for my career, which I study for in the evenings, I told my partner I needed his support to make it a success. He understands how important it is for me to give 100 per cent of my focus on my Thursday evening classes and so, each week he supports me by making sure I have a hot meal to come home to.
These small acts may sound trivial, and on paper might not seem as if they amount to much, but as the saying goes, “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow”.
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Photograph: Splash News/Corbis