January 23, 2015 / 2:18 PM / 4 years ago

Emma Watson urges men to join gender equality battle

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - British actress Emma Watson urged young men to speak out when women are degraded, husbands to support wives to pursue their ambitions and businessmen who mentor women to share their experiences, as part of a drive to get more men to champion women’s rights.

Actress Emma Watson arrives at the Elle Style Awards in London, February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

The star, also a goodwill ambassador for UN Women, was speaking on Friday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where she helped to launch the next phase of a campaign to encourage men and boys to join the struggle for equal rights.

Watson said since the HeforShe campaign began in September, it had received an outpouring of support from high-profile figures such as Hillary Clinton, Prince Harry and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

IMPACT 10X10X10, the initiative launched on Friday, is a one-year pilot project seeking concrete commitments from governments, companies and universities on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

A girl born this year will be 80 before she lives in a world of gender equality, unless business leaders shatter the glass ceiling, heads of state do more to protect women and young men stand up for equal rights, the head of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

“Women alone cannot fight the deeply entrenched stereotypes in our society. But together men and women can turn the tide of inequality,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said in Davos.

“The fight to end gender-based injustices has to be timebound. It cannot be an open-ended struggle,” she added.

Watson, who rose to fame in the “Harry Potter” films, said she had been encouraged by the response to the campaign so far.

Not only has the HeforShe conference video been viewed over 11 million times, but it has also sparked 1.2 billion social media conversations and spurred all kinds of action, she said.

“I’ve had my breath taken away when a fan told me that since watching my speech, she has stopped herself being beaten up by her father,” Watson said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to India last week he had recruited Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi and legendary cricket player Sachin Tendulkar to join the HeforShe campaign.

“Our world will not change until men think differently about their roles and what it means to be a man. We can do that most successfully when we enlist men to speak to other men,” Ban said.

Reporting by Katie Nguyen; Editing by Ros Russell

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