FEMINIST FRIDAY: Emma Watson & Justin Trudeau Give Speeches For The “He For She” Anniversary

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Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday, the series where we end the week showcasing some of our favorite videos of the moment, ones that have inspired us and spurred us on in our passion for gender equality. Today’s edition definitely encompasses this, and then some.

It’s hard to believe 2 years has already passed since Emma Watson gave her viral He For She campaign launch speech. Her rally cry to men around the world that gender equality is their fight too sparked a movement that was heard and felt far and wide. Whether it was men in Afghanistan and Iran wearing the hijab in a solidarity protest against violence toward women, or Channing Tatum speaking out against rape culture in the wake of some shocking incidents where young men convicted of rape easily escape punishment because of a culture that prefers to look at rapists, especially pro athletes, as heroes instead.

For the 2nd anniversary of the campaign launch, Emma chose to focus on the college rape epidemic in the United States. Emma attended Brown University in Rhode Island so this is no doubt something that is important to her. She pointed to some schools which have failed to adequately deal with incidents that arise on their campus, sending the message that “sexual violence isn’t actually a form of violence.”

“As we leave home for the first time to study at the places that we have worked so hard to get, we must not see or experience double standards. We need to see equal respect, leadership, and pay. The university experience must tell women that their brain power is valued, and not just that, that they belong within the leadership of the university itself..When one person’s safety is violated, everyone feels their own safety is violated. A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence. That’s why, we believe, that students should leave university believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality … in every sense and that universities have the power to be a vital catalyst for that change,” she said in her speech. Watch the video below:

In the U.S., there are 35 incidents of rape reported each academic year for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, according to Raw Story. And in the spirit of He For She, one man who has become an international leader in encouraging his fellow men to stand up for women is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He was present at the event and once again took advantage of the platform to declare he is a feminist. During his speech he explained why gender equality is a cause close to his heart.

“There are few causes that I am as passionate about as the one that is at the core of the HeForShe movement. The need for gender equality and the need to have everyone, men and women alike, doing their part to help get us there,” he said.

Justin doesn’t believe he should be given any extra credit for calling himself a feminist and says it should be more of a normalized thing among men.

“I don’t think that anyone should find it remarkable that someone like me — a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a political leader — should be interested in advancing opportunities for women and girls. I say that because I think that everybody should be in the business of improving opportunities for women and girls,” he said.

In his view women’s issues are everybody’s issues, because it just makes sense to ensure half the population are thriving in the same way as the men.

“When women and girls get ahead, everyone does better in society. It’s not just about women’s issues, it’s about all of our issues. And teaching that to our kids is really, really important. Because we know if kids grow up in a more equal world, it is a better world,” he said.

You can watch his speech below:

Why does He For She matter? Because we want young boys and girls to grow up in a world knowing that they are equal, and celebrate their differences rather than look at them as a form of weakness. But it has to start today and it has to start with us. As adults we are responsible for the messages young boys and girls digest on a daily basis, and if we have the power to impact their lives with positive, thoughtful, intelligent and empowering representations of all genders, the world will be a much better place.

And if you want a glimpse of what that world would look like, check out our final video, which is is Bomba Estereo’s ‘Soy Yo’. Remezcla.com calls this an “ode to little brown girls everywhere” as we see a young girl skipping and dancing and sassing her way through New York City. Singer Liliana Saumet told the publication in an interview the song is all about self-love and positivity.

“Really, there is a lot of bullying and lots of discrimination — both racial and social — so the message was a good one: To encourage people to be who they are and to be happy with themselves without being exactly what society tells you to be,” she said.

We see the little girl feeling powerful as she engages in a dance battle against older boys. The visual representation of confidence is important, not just for younger girls, but for adult women also.

“I love that she’s a little girl, and that shows off this side about women — how women can love and value themselves with all of their flaws, since society can be especially harsh toward them,” explained Liliana.

This is the kind of girl we want to see taking up space in the world and owning her power. Bring it!