DAVOS, Switzerland — On September 20, 2014, Emma Watson, in her new role as United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, launched the campaign for her movement He for She. Watson presented a powerful speech about feminism to the United Nations in New York in which she proposed:
“… when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t have to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive and strong.”
Through her words, Watson presented a realistic future with gender equality and empowerment for all. Everyone desires acceptance and respect, which contributes to why we all are torn in such a society where the media dictates how one should act.
“It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining each other by who we are, we can all be freer and this is what He for She is all about,” Watson stated.
The upcoming future must be made into a world where all can be equally accepted; this equality comes not from fitting in with the crowd, but in standing out together. “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Here, Watson’s boldness shines through as she encourages her audience to believe that just by being a person, they can achieve great things.
Four months later, on January 23, 2015, Watson founded the initiative, IMPACT 10x10x10 in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. It is a three-to-five year pilot effort to advance and ultimately achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment by engaging global leaders across three sectors: government, the private sector and academia. In Watson’s own words, “IMPACT 10x10x10 is about concrete commitments to change the visibility of these commitments and the measurability of them too.” Graciously, this movement is expanding and growing at an immense speed, and many global leaders are stepping up to the plate and facilitating its success.
One such example is those known as IMPACT champions, who are dedicated supporters of gender equality and empowerment inclined to make bold, incomparable commitments to revolutionize our world. Specifically, numerous heads of state commit to personally advocating and mobilizing a He for She campaign in their respective countries. According to the pilot initiative overview attached to the He for She official website, “To ensure effective implementation, provide transparency, and share best practices with other leaders, the IMPACT champions will annually publish a report.”
He for She and Malawi
Arthur Peter Mutharika, Republic of Malawi’s President and Head of State IMPACT Champion, declared his two main commitments in advocating and mobilizing for He for She. His tactics for empowering women begins by the implementation of the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act of 2015. Presently, 1 in 2 Malawian young girls is married before her 18th birthday. To counteract this phenomenon, this act of 2015 took the important stance towards the cessation of child marriage.
In this new direction, Malawi commits to fully implementing this law over the next five years by already establishing a stead-fast task force on ending child marriage. The task force will have several key responsibilities: collect and report data on the average marriage age, escalate challenges or lagging progress, and convene stakeholders from across the country. Additionally, the government will inaugurate marriage courts at the district level to handle the cases and monitor the implementation of the act.
With the implementation of the National Action Plan on Gendered-Based Violence (GBV), especially on ending the violence against women and girls, Mutharika voiced his level of commitment to this area of concern: “I believe that gender equality, ending violence against women and girls, and the empowerment of women are key to sustainable social, political and economic development for my country.”
Malawi and Japan Working Toward Advanced Women’s Rights
Violence is a widespread but silent epidemic in Malawi today, with 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 7 boys estimated to have experienced sexual violence in their childhoods. Statistically, the majority of cases of this type of violence occur in the home and are viewed as a private family affair; this status thereby results in very few actual reported cases.
To revolutionize this reality on violence, the government of Malawi created objectives increasing the number of reported cases of gender-based-violence via the creation of a system within the National Action Plan to spotlight and elevate this issue. In addition, a Chief’s Committee will be established to merge systematic bylaws and implement and promote positive norms around gender, violence and sexuality.
In parallel, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan and Head of State IMPACT Champion, voiced his full commitment to this initiative: “Creation of ‘a society in which all women shine’ is one of the foremost elements of my administration’s policies. I am determined to strengthen cooperation with the international community on this issue.”
Specifically, Japan is a faithful benefactor of and partner to UN Women. From 2013 onwards, Japan’s contributions to UN Women have increased greatly, and this year a new country office opened in Tokyo. This will cause Japan to become one of UN Women’s leading contributors — a status that further strengthens the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Japan will work closely with the UN Women Japan Liaison Office to promote UN Women efforts in Japan and encourage other leaders to become HeForShe and UN Women supporters.
Prime Minister Abe gave his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2014, stating that Japan’s intention and commitment would be to make this century the end to human rights breaches against women. Japan will develop a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Moving forward, Japan will also advocate and mobilize this issue abroad, working closely with U.N. Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) to protect women in conflict, and accentuate the focal point of gender equality in its intergovernmental negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda.
With these examples from two heads of state and their commitment to both the He for She movement and the IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, it has proven substantial the impression that Emma Watson left with both campaigns. In her 2015 IMPACT press release, she stated:
“…the ground is fertile. It is my belief that there is a greater understanding than ever that women need to be equal participants in our homes, in our societies, in our governments, and in our workplaces. They know the world is being held back in every way because they are not. Women share this planet 50/50 and they are under-represented: their potential astonishingly untapped.”
Currently, there are 10 heads of state beginning their advocacies and mobilizations, which leads to a great progression in terms of women obtaining their voices in government. The simple notion that they will be included in the important decisions of their country is a global step forward in the right direction.
For many centuries, women have been cast aside because of the ever-present patriarchy that wouldn’t allow them to think for themselves and act accordingly. With the political climate being what it is, our world needs more female leaders who are empowered to articulate their perspectives and create their own movements against existing injustices. Men and women working together for a uniting movement is remarkable: IMPACT 10x10x10 must continue its growth and give the next generation the opportunity to live in a world where true equality exists and is the norm.
– Nicole Suarez