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5 inspiring things about gender equality that Emma Watson wants you to know

Emma Watson

Sunday was International Women’s Day, and to celebrate, actress and UN Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson joined Facebook at its London headquarters to talk about women’s rights.

Watson is an advocate for the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which encourages men to join in the fight against discrimination against women. She first brought attention to the movement in September, when she gave her now famous speech inviting men to stand up for gender equality.

In case you missed the Facebook chat, we pulled out some of the well-spoken 24-year-old’s most inspiring thoughts on the issue, including Watson’s response to a group who tried to silence her by threatening to release fake naked photos of her following her speech.

We clearly still have a long way to go. —Jamie McKillop

1. Acknowledge the problem. Watson points out that it can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable to talk about gender equality. “We have to admit that we are complicit,” she says. “A lot of the criticism I’ve had in my life have been comments from other women. It’s not enough to ask men to come in and support us. We need to support each other.”

2. Don’t treat feminism like a dirty word. “People associate feminism with hate and male hate,” she says. “That’s really negative and not what it’s about.” However, Watson thinks people are becoming less reluctant to call themselves feminists. “We’re coming back to what the definition means: equality—politically, culturally, economically, and socially,” she says. “It’s not a ‘women’s’ word, it really just means you stand for equality.”

3. Include men in the dialogue. Watson has four brothers, and she believes gender equality is affecting them as much as it is her. “We need to give men a space where they feel they can talk about these issues,” she says. “My brother says he can’t be around his friends sometimes the way they talk about women. It’s like they’re imitating this male idea. We don’t acknowledge how much pressure we put on men to conform to a certain idea of masculinity.”

4. Start with your nieces and nephews. “It starts really young with girls and boys being told what they have to be,” Watson explains. “It can be really damaging. Let’s encourage children to include each other instead of ostracizing each other. And we shouldn’t have expectations based on gender or the sex you see.”

5. Admit it’s happening all over. When Watson gave her speech, a website went live immediately afterward with a countdown that threatened to release (non-existent) naked photos of the actress. “People close to me knew it was an issue but thought it wasn’t that urgent,” she said. “Then they saw how I was immediately threatened and were shocked. It was a wake-up call that all of this is a real thing and that it’s really happening now, in all sorts of different forms. ”

For more information and to watch the full interview, visit