We were there: Emma Watson's IWD talk on gender equality

ELLE attends a Q&A with the actress and activist

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Back in September, the superb speech that Emma Watson gave at the UN to coincide with the #HeForShe campaign launch (it asserted that if you stand for equality, you are a feminist) sparked a whole new generation of activists.
 
Emma chose International Women’s Day to take part in a live Facebook Q&A on gender equality, attended by an inspiring group of Emma’s fans who are engaged with the campaign (some had travelled thousands of miles to attend the event in London).
 
Team ELLE was also in the room. Emma was well prepared for the Q&A, she’d done a huge amount of research and told ELLE’s editor-in-chief, Lorraine Candy, she was ‘nervous all day, because it is so important to get the facts right'. She succeeded, and won a standing ovation from the crowd of supporters.
 
During the hour-long discussion, Emma spoke about society’s narrow definitions of masculinity and femininity, privilege, posturing, chivalry, the pay gap, maternity leave, the power of social media and the importance of speaking up and taking action: ‘The little things matter. Be brave’
 
Finally, Emma passionately urged everyone listening to pledge to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls by committing to the campaign online via heforshe.org. Do it now and share it with the men in your life.
 
Read some of Emma’s inspiring words below.
 
On a website that was set up threatening to release naked photographs of Emma:
‘I knew it was a hoax, I knew the pictures didn't exist but I think people close to me knew gender equality was an issue but they didn't think it was that urgent… [but] then they saw that the minute I stepped up and talked about women’s rights I was threatened… it made me so much more determined. I was raging. If [the people responsible for the website] were trying to put me off, it did the opposite.’
 
On the narrow definitions of femininity and masculinity:
‘I’m really genuinely disturbed by this idea that men can't cry and that they can't express themselves and talk about how they actually feel. I think that’s the saddest thing in the world. It’s so bad. It’s what makes you human.’
 
On chivalry:
‘I love having the door opened for me. Isn’t that just polite? But the key is, would you then mind if I opened the door for you? The key is, chivalry should be consensual. Both parties should be feeling good about that. I think it’s just a problem when people expect things to be a certain way, to follow a certain status quo.’
 
On parental leave:
‘Men should be equal partners in raising children. I think there shouldn't be an assumption that having children is something that only affects women. Because women need men’s support in those circumstances just as much and I think it’s a really unfair assumption to make that it’s only women who are going to be sidetracked by raising children. It’s one of the most important things as a human being that you can be involved with, fostering and nurturing a human being. Men need to be playing their part, too.’
 
On the pay gap:
‘If you know that a woman is doing the same work as you and you know she is being paid less than you it would be so cool if you said something about it. Ask the question.’

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