Emma Watson Interviewed Malala About Her Film, Her Father, & Her Thoughts On Feminism

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Behold, a new era of female role models is upon us and it is a brilliant sight to behold! Two of our favorite female role models recently met for an interview to talk about a topic that matters to us dearly: feminism. The two people of course are British actress and UN Women ambassador Emma Watson, and activist Malala Yousafzai.

The interview kicked off the annual Into Film Festival in the UK which is a yearly celebration of film and education for 5-19 year-olds. For just over 20 minutes Emma and Malala talked about her new documentary feature ‘He Named Me Malala’, answered questions from audience members and why gender equality matters today.

When Emma introduces Malala, you can sense some sort of fan-girling going on in the full video below, which makes the whole exchange so sweet to watch.

Emma kicks off the interview by saying how the film portrayed Malala as just an ordinary girl, as a high school student in the UK, fighting with her brothers, and interacting with girlfriends, which sends a great message to young women watching that they too can be a powerful agent for change.

But on the flipside, Malala is also gets to meet world leaders, win the Nobel Peace Prize and speak at the UN. When asked what her tangible goal is for the Malala Fund, she has a clear answer.

“It’s my simple dream [that] I want to see every child get quality education. In order to make sure their dreams come true, we have to work hard, take action which is what we are doing with the Malala Fund every day…we are raising our voices saying not just primary education should be focused on, but [also] secondary education should be available to every child. This is my mission and I’ll try my best to make it come true,” she says with that signature defiance.

In regard to the documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’, which is heavily aimed at a young female audience and was brilliantly made by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (‘An Inconvenient Truth’), Malala says it is not just a movie, but a movement. She wants the film to inspire people to take action after watching it.

Emma remarks how touched she was seeing Malala’s dad Ziauddin Yousafzai featured in the film and learning how he has played such as pivotal role in shaping who the young activist is today. He is well known as the driving force behind Malala’s passion for education, but his progressive view wasn’t always so. Just an FYI for those who haven’t seen the film, he talks about being a big believer in the concept of Jihad growing up as a young Muslim, but after he started learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and his teachings, he completely changed his view about equality. It was certainly a powerful story line in the documentary, and today it is clear how this has impacted Malala’s life.

“My father has set an example to all parents and all men that if we want equality, if we want equal rights for women, then men have to step forward. If we complain that women don’t get equal rights this means all the things are taken by men. So they need to say ‘we’re here to support’. We can’t just think ‘those crazy feminist are going to change it’, we all have ot work together, that’s how change will come. This is the role my father has taken; he believes in women’s rights, he believes in equality and he calls himself a feminist,” she said.

The fact that Malala and Emma are even talking about feminism is awesome, because it almost didn’t happen. In a Facebook post where she shared the interview, Emma talks about her hesitation in bringing up the subject with Malala initially.

To give you some background, I had initially planned to ask Malala whether or not she was a feminist but then researched to see whether she had used this word to describe herself. Having seen that she hadn’t, I decided to take the question out before the day of our interview. To my utter shock Malala put the question back into one of her own answers and identified herself. Maybe feminist isn’t the easiest word to use… But she did it ANYWAY…I’ve spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalized movement it is too. We are all moving towards the same goal. Let’s not make it scary to say you’re a feminist. I want to make it a welcoming and inclusive movement,” she wrote.

Malala too know what a polarizing word it can be and shares her own thoughts about it, including how Emma became the reason for changing her mind about it.

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“Interestingly this word feminism, it has been a very tricky word. When I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and positives ones, and I hesitated in saying whether I was a feminist or not. Then after hearing your speech when you said ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided there’s nothing wrong in calling yourself a feminist. So I am a feminist, we all should be feminists because ‘feminist’ is another word for equality,” she said.

You can see the look of pure joy on Emma’s face as Malala says these words, and for us hearing that one of the world’s most impactful activists right now is a feminist just makes us love her even more.

The idea of an educated girl not being inline with the tenets of Islam is a topic that Emma brings up, because Malala is a devout Muslim and Emma was inspired by how her faith was a huge part in her activism. The terrorist group which kidnapped the near-300 Nigerian girls in 2014, Boko Haram, are well known for their disdain of education saying it is a Western concept and a “sin”. Emma asks Malala to share her thoughts on the supposed notion that religion and education aren’t compatible.

“I think people fail to understand religious beliefs especially when it comes to Islam. The word “Islam” means peace. The very first word of the holy Quran is “Iqra” which means read. It was not only that males should read it and not females, it was about reading, learning and getting knowledge. In Islam we believe that God put us on the earth to gain knowledge…so people have just misinterpreted the religion. For me Islam is a religion of peace and the goodness of the whole of humanity…I don’t know why people go crazy and kill each other and start terrorism. Just live a better life and be kind, why is it so hard to love each other?” she says in regard to the idea that the religion is synonymous with extremism.

At the end of the whole interview, Malala turns the tables on Emma and gives her a chance to share her message with the audience, so she uses it as an opportunity to promote the need for men to sign up to the He For She campaign.

“We really need you as the next generation to extend a hand to the girls and women in your life, to make sure they can live their lives without discrimination, and that they have access to the same opportunities that you do. And if you do have the chance, speak up, raise your voice,” she said.

It’s quite an inspiring and thought-provoking exchange to watch between the two young women who are both affecting change in their own ways. You can watch the full video below, and find out more about the Malala Fund and the He For She campaign to see why Malala and Emma are passionate about their respective causes.

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