State of Gender Equality Speech by Emma Watson

Gosh, I’m so overwhelmed. Thank you to everyone that has shared their story tonight and has contributed to what has been the most heart-warming moment of my year. Good evening. Being a part of HeForShe for the last two years has been an incredible learning experience for me. There have been some really hard moments and a lot of amazing ones: ones I never could have imagined. The UN Secretary General, the entire EU Commission, the NATO Secretary General, the President of the International Olympic Committee, numerous heads of state and politicians from around the world, including those that you’ve heard from tonight, and everyone from Usain Bolt to Tom Hanks are now all HeforShe. We’ve crashed the UN website on multiple occasions—sorry about that! We have lit up the Empire State Building, seen HeForShe in Times Square, and made it a term in the Urban Dictionary.

After two billion media impressions, 1.1 million pledged HeforShes have made practical commitments, as have some of the world’s leading universities and companies, to make gender equality a priority in their work and within their communities. Surprisingly though, it was during the hard moments that I made the best discoveries about what it means to be part of this movement. There is genuinely a spectrum of amazing feminists out there who have not only given me invaluable advice but also broadened my perspective and reinforced my belief that we are all linked. We all belong to a long history of people who have made sacrifices, some groups much more than others, in order to make indefinably large contributions to our modern lives.

We’ve seen seismic shifts in culture recently. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I turned on the TV to see that Bud Light was pledging gender equality and equal pay as part of their current advertising campaign. We already have some amazing things happening, some amazing female leaders, but I don’t know if I would have believed you if you had told me two years ago before I made my HeForShe speech that we might have the first female President of the United States—please don’t let me down, America!—a female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and possibly for the first time in history, a female UN Secretary General. While women still only make up such a small percentage of political leadership, to quote the awesome Michelle Obama, “because of these women, girls and boys all over the world will have real-life examples that women are leaders.”

In the last two years if I have learned anything, if they have shown me anything, it is that nothing—nothing—is impossible. And that’s why tonight, as well as saying thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done, I ask you to recommit yourselves to be a part of gender equality. I genuinely feel that we are closer to a gender equal world, certainly closer than we were two years ago, and I know that each and every HeForShe has played such a huge part in that. I am proud to have been part of lots of amazing things in my life, but there is nothing that I am prouder of than being part of this. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful night.

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