On September 20, 2014 Emma Watson triggered a whole new generation of feminists. In her 12 minute speech launching the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign that went viral, Watson inspired and redefined what it means to be a feminist and called men and women alike to take action for gender equality.
“How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation? Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.”
And it is equality that is at the centre of this campaign. Even the name reflects this endeavour. Feminist and feminism has become a dirty word for many and can seem ostracizing to others. The HeForShe campaign restores this image by putting a new label on an old issue and is really at the helm of this movement.
Designed to mobilize men to accelerate the achievement of gender equality, this movement starts online with “…a simple affirmation that gender equality is not only a women’s issue, but a human rights issue that requires the participation and commitment of men.” Awareness then turns to action, asking men to define what matters to them, and what they will do to make a difference. So far HeForShe has been the subject of more than 2 billion conversations on social media.
UN Women, a nonprofit organization, has really hit the nail on the head with the systematic approach and targeted platform of this campaign. What better way to include people and spread a voice than taking advantage of new media and the scope and impact it can have. An active presence on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube @HeForShe, combined with user generated content tagged as #HeForShe, this movement is using innovative online technology to identify and activate men in every corner of the world in the quest for gender equality.