Forwarding Feminism: Emma Watson Brings Social Change to Hollywood and the World

She’s best known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter series, but Emma Watson has taken on an even more important role outside of Hollywood–as a humanitarian. She uses her high profile as an actress to spread awareness of issues that matter to her, especially the rights of women and girls.

In 2014, Emma’s ability to spark change was recognized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women when they named her a Goodwill Ambassador. At 24, she had already been working to promote girls’ education, serving as an ambassador for Camfed International, an organization that works to end poverty in Africa by sending girls to school.

On September 20, 2014, Emma spoke in front of international dignitaries at the United Nations Headquarters to launch the HeForShe campaign, a global effort to involve men and boys in the movement toward gender equality. As part of her speech, she said, “I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”

In 2015, Emma had the opportunity to interview Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, at the Into Film Festival. Malala revealed that Emma’s HeForShe speech had inspired her to call herself a feminist. Malala said, “I hesitated in saying am I a feminist or not and then after hearing your speech, when you said ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided that there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist, so I am a feminist. And feminism is another word for equality.”

As part of her women’s rights work, Emma has also spoken out about the need for increased diversity in Hollywood. In September, 2015, she told The Guardian, “I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with 13 have been male and only one has been a woman. But I am lucky: I have always insisted on being treated equally and have generally won that equality.”

Just like Hermione, Emma Watson speaks out and takes action to help make the world a better place. She creates real change with lasting impacts–and she doesn’t need a magic wand to do it.