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Emma Watson on Gender Equality and the Struggles of Activism: Transcript

Emma Watson OYW
Emma Watson speaks at the One Young World summit in Ottawa, Canada, on September 29. One Young World

Here is a full transcript of Emma Watson speaking at One Young World on September 29, in Ottawa, Canada:

Thank you. Two years ago I launched a campaign called HeforShe at the U.N. in New York. I was very nervous before that speech; the nerves were followed by a tremendous high immediately afterwards and a crashing low a few days after that.

My best hopes and my worst fears were confirmed all at once. I had opened Pandora’s Box to a standing ovation and almost simultaneously a level of critique I had never experienced in my life and the beginning of what would become a series of threats. The last two years have been a baptism of fire to say the least, where I learnt just how little I know, and also how much.

It was my scary first step as an activist: a word I never imagined that I would use to describe myself. So reading the applications of activists who applied here for One Young World scholarships was surprising to me. Here I was reading the stories of people from nearly 200 different countries from around the world with experiences that I couldn’t even imagine. I mean, they were so out of this world to me.

And yet their notes looked like my notes. The same themes emerged over and over and over again. There was so much overlap with the things that I had been thinking about and that I had been struggling with. Because the truth is, it had never been about being an activist; it was about the choice to make myself visible and the choices that you made to do that too.                                                         

Apart from the significant progress the world has made in the cause for equality, the best thing about the last two years has been this. Finding people from such disparate experiences and communities, that I found that I have something in common with. This is a community of artists, spiritual teachers, dreamers, thinkers, doers, who work together and support each other.

For the first time in my life, I found my sisterhood; a brotherhood—whatever, however you want to describe it—I found my tribe.

My hope for you, while you are here, is that you will find some of your tribe too. I really needed mine.

Bobby Kennedy, when he was senator for New York, said: “Each time a man or woman stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.” That’s what we are doing.

We, the entire spectrum of the feminist movement, are building an unstoppable current, for which we need ripples of hope from every age, race, ability, walk of life, every human experience. I feel gender equality is as important as any of the other goals that we are here to discuss. And actually, if anything, it is more important, because it intersects with every single other issue that we face.

We all have feminine and masculine energies within us. And both forces need to be lifted up, respected. We need to work together in order to make the world go round. Each of you are here at One Young World because you do something important. And it is so exciting to see you all come together in one room, because One Young World isn’t about saying what I, each of us individually, can do, but what we can do, working together, supporting and listening to each other.

It’s in that spirit that I am delighted to introduce nine activists who are the first recipients of a One Young World scholarship that I am very honored to have in my name; they are working to secure real progress towards a gender equal world, and I hope their stories will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

In a moment I am going to ask them to come onto the stage, but before I do, I want to offer a few statements of my own that I’ve struggled with, and continue to struggle with on a daily basis, but that I have found inspiring. I want to ask you to take a moment—you can keep your eyes closed, or keep them open—and ask yourself if these have any truth for you in them:

I am willing to be seen.

I am willing to speak up.

I am willing to keep going.

I am willing to listen to what others have to say.

I am willing to go forward even when I feel alone.

I am willing to go to bed each night, at peace with myself.

I am willing to be my biggest, best-est, most powerful self.

These seven statements scare the absolute shit out of me. But I know that they are at the crux of it all. At the end of the day, and when all is said and done, I know that these are the ways that I want to have lived my life.

I know that each of you will have probably encountered one of these statements in the last 48 hours and if you have, thank you for being here. I appreciate it. It is truly an honor to be here with you all.

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