The former “Harry Potter” actress was speaking in her role as a United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador. She made the speech at the U.N. Headquarters Saturday in New York to kick off the “HeForShe” campaign to fight the inequality women face globally.
“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” she said. “If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.”
Gender equality must be seen as a men’s issue if things are to change, she said.
“I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves,” she said.
“When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled.”
She said that both men and women should feel free to be strong.
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals,” she continued. “We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are.”
She even had an answer for those who question how her turn as Hermione Granger qualified her as an expert on gender equality.
“You might think: who is this Harry Potter girl?” she said. “What is she doing at the UN? I’ve been asking myself the same thing.
“All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make this better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel my responsibility to say something. Edmund Burke said all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”
Watson’s speech drew a standing ovation. Here’s the video: