In any conflict or situation, there are always two sides to every story. Feminism has traditionally focused on the female side of gender equality, until now. The United Nations was blown away last week by newly appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson after her moving speech on gender equality. By including men in the feminist movement, Emma Watson brought a new and invigorated view of what feminism means and how everyone can be involved. Feminism, by definition, is the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes. However, as Emma Watson mentioned, this definition has been misinterpreted in our current society. In order to successfully ensure equality of the sexes, stereotypes involving both genders need to be eliminated.
With the launch of a new campaign called HeForShe, Emma Watson is now leading the feminist movement and their new global image. By involving both men and women, HeForShe is attempting to creating a unified group to help fight to ensure that these stereotypes are eliminated, equal pay is established, and educational opportunities are available for everyone. Like the HeForShe campaign, POLSCI 101 has discussed educational equality of opportunity in Louis Menand’s article “Live and Learn: Why we have college?” Menand states three theories that focus on higher education, which each focusing on autonomy, educational equality of opportunity, and meritocracy.
Manand’s second theory regarding higher education strives to have both the elites and the masses of society attend college and graduate with a core set of skills that will produce well rounded citizens. Although Menand is referring to the educational system in the United States, his theories can and should be applied to the globe. Unfortunately, equality of educational opportunity for both sexes is not present in every country. As Emma Watson stated, “there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.” Even in the United States, gender inequality is present in our education system. Unequal payment of women for the same work as well as men and women’s stereotypical professions are only a few of the examples of the limitations that both genders face in our education system. For example, female scientists are traditionally not taken as seriously as their male counterparts and male nurses are not socially accepted as well as female nurses. This produces an unequal playing field in the job market and reinforces existing gender roles. To start to erase these issues from our society, we should begin by ensuring that every single person has a basic education. Emma Watson acknowledged the need to open up educational opportunities for women across the globe. If this is followed, like Menand’s second theory, everyone will have the opportunity attend college, pursue the degree and profession they want without judgment, and graduate as competent citizens.
Menand’s third theory references the value of specialized schools and how they are more affordable for a larger section of the American population. This brings into play the financial aspect of an education. If applied on a global scale, we can see how theory three could help remove the financial constraints of attending college that prevent young woman from attending school. In many foreign countries, families do not see a benefit in sending their daughter to college because of the financial and social implications involved. They will instead send their sons to college and their daughter will never receive this opportunity. This stereotype regarding female and male success and place in the world severely limits educational opportunities for women and reinforces existing gender roles. By listening to Emma Watson’s speech, show in the link below, we can slowly begin to break down these barriers surrounding gender inequality and make progress. If these steps are taken to ensure the elimination of stereotypes and the equality of the sexes, we can create an educational environment throughout the world that mirrors Menand’s theories to ensure a better future for our society.
Emma Watson UN Speech Video Excerpt: