Sharmin, age 17
A few weeks ago, actress Emma Watson, a U.N. Women Ambassador, delivered a speech at a U.N. conference about a novel solidarity campaign called, HeForShe. This movement aims to end gender inequality through promoting women’s rights and encouraging men to join in on the effort—hence the name, HeForShe.
What also sets this campaign apart is its focus on men’s rights.
“Too often,” Watson states, “fighting for women’s rights has… become synonymous with man-hating”; however, “feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
The word feminism, or “equality for the masses,” has gotten a bad rep over the years. Many people have come to believe that the word signifies female superiority. But feminists, as Watson points out, want both women and men to be free and accepting of one another’s natural rights and opinions. They want equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal liberty.
A key concept Watson discusses in her speech is that both genders are stereotyped in our society. In some developing nations, women are thought to be property. In developed nations, women are not paid equally or are denied employment because of concern that they might produce children and go on maternity leave. And men are also subjected to injustices. According to Watson, men are told from a young age that “manliness” requires them to have a stoic appearance and express less emotion. It is no wonder, she says, that suicide is one of the most prevalent killers of men.
Gender inequality has existed in every nation and every period in history. But here at WriteGirl, we are committed to joining the effort to stop gender inequality now. We want to encourage our girls, women, and male friends and supporters to stand and unite ourselves as Feminists against gender discrimination. We want to propagate equal opportunity for the masses and ensure that no one gender is neglected.
As young women writers who no longer have to hide behind aliases for the sake of success, we should employ the power of our pens to change society and the course of human civilization. An Emma Watson is within all of us. We all have the ability to galvanize our peers and ourselves to reshape how we look at gender roles. We don’t need to be famous or become a U.N Ambassador to do this.
All we need is a story. A story that inspires people to contemplate and reconsider their place in society.