At ELLE we're huge advocates of the HeForShe campaign, which launched last year with UN Women and our former cover star Emma Watson.
So when it was announced that UN Women was heading on the road to deliver the message of equality to university campuses we jumped at the chance to see change in action. The Get Free University Tour has been making its way across the UK and we caught up with it at LSE University, where actor Douglas Booth gave a keynote speech followed by a panel discussion on equality.
Here are five things we learned from the afternoon.
1) Men are our partners in bringing about equality.
Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UN Women and Head of the HeForShe Initiative opened the afternoon event with a reminder about what the HeForShe campaign is about and that is getting everyone, all genders, involved in the fight for equality. Because as she eloquently reminded us, 'you can't create social change with only half of the team sitting at the table'.
2) Both the everyday inequalites and the extremely terrible atrocities need to be tackled.
Actor Douglas Booth kicked off his keynote speech by reminding everyone that both the global atrocities such as sexual violence against women and the everyday stereotypes that society creates around gender need to be tackled.
3) We need to address unconcious bias
One of the panelists was Charles Stephens: The Global Head of Gender at Barclays Plc and he spoke about how Barclays is a trailblazer when it comes to employing women. A whopping 51 % of the workforce is female. However, he said when it gets to Director and MD level that number falls to 21%, so he's working constantly to change that, with a focus on offering unconscious bias training classes for employees so that the hiring process is fairer.
4) Gender fluidity is celebrated
While the title HeForShe has gone viral, this panel highlighted that gender doesn't just fall into these two camps and the HeForShe movement wants everyone to be involved. Emma Watson mentioned in her speech that gender isn't binary, and with this university tour HeForShe is listening to all the feedback they are getting to make sure the movement is completely inclusive. Get ready for a 'much more inclusive agenda with HeForShe, in terms of how we message but also in terms of how we engage everybody in the movement. We want everybody involved because no one is free and no one is equal until we are all equal,' added Elizabeth.
5) Change is possible (and can be immediate)
We loved the quote from panelist Hilary Stauffer, an international lawyer and visiting fellow. In a big discussion about the idea of creating immediate change via the HeForShe movement she said that gender equality doesn't need a 'massive revolution to happen, but a commitment to breaking bad habits.' So guys, the next time your female colleague is asked to make the tea because she is a woman call out this bias and engage your male colleagues to follow suit, or better yet get the tea yourself.
See the whole livestream of the #LSEGetFree speeches and panel discussion here.