Hermione Granger grew up! Emma Watson proved herself to be an educated and eloquent United Nations Goodwill Ambassador as she made her first speech at the U.N. Headquarters in New York on Saturday, Sept. 20.
The Harry Potter star was joined by Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker for the event, which launched the HeForShe campaign, aiming to “galvanize as many men and boys to be advocates for change” in the issue of gender equality.
Watson, 24, who has recently returned from a mission to Uruguay with U.N. Women, looked sleek and professional in a white dress, her hair pulled back in a tidy ponytail. And despite some nerves, the British actress’ debut speech received rapturous applause and a standing ovation.
Describing herself as a feminist, Watson pondered over why such a title now brings with it negative notions. “I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” she said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
Drawing on experiences from her travels, Watson talked about the basic human rights she believes all women should be afforded. “I am from Britain and I think it is right that 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,” she said. “I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and the decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” she continued.
“But sadly, I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”
Confronting the fact that critics may think her inexperienced or unqualified, Watson said boldly, “You might think, ‘Who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the U.N.?’ And it’s a really good question, I’ve been asking myself the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better.”
After her speech, the actress was commended by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“She’s been using her magic wand in her movie,” he said. “I hope she will use [her] magic want to stop violence against women. Again, thank you very much for shining your spotlight on this life-saving work.”
Click on the link to watch Watson’s entire speech above.