Gender Equality HeForShe Campaign Makes IMPACT in Davos Press Conference

Gender Equality HeForShe Campaign Makes IMPACT in Davros Press Conference

Credit: Getty Images
  • Leaders promise real changes.
  • Emma Watson asks men to demonstrate commitment.
  • IMPACT 10x10x10 guides new steps of campaign.

HeForShe launched four months ago and men worldwide have committed to engage in gender equality. Now, the HeForShe campaign and Emma Watson look for world leaders to show how important committed IMPACT can change everything.

The United Nations‘ campaign for gender equality, HeForShe, launched a new branch intent on reaching more men with the IMPACT 10X10X10 initiative. The pilot program is a one-year idea looking to increase governments, corporations, and universities participation in fostering environments promoting women empowerment.

Additionally, IMPACT wants to address the problems in order to create a more sustainable projected growth for women in positions of power. Emma Watson defined IMPACT 10x10x10 as “about concrete commitments to change” and for men to “decide what your commitment is and make it public.”

At the press conference in Davros, Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded attending media that HeForShe‘s momentum has created great changes already.

“HeForShe has signed up fathers who want to raise empowered daughters; leaders who know their societies will be stronger when there are as many women in parliament and in business as men.”

Then highlighted what many people on social media have been discussing. “Ordinary people who are fed up with violence and discrimination against women – and want to be part of a global force for change.”

After pointing out those wanting to see change, Ki-moon focused on the overall purpose of HeForShe. “This is a partnership campaign involving individuals and corporations, government leaders and grass-roots activists, great celebrities and global citizens. HeForShe is the United Nations in your countries and communities.”

Popular celebrities like Marvel‘s Tom Hiddleston joined the movement last year when UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson asked for men to be more aware of what the women they love and care about face on a daily basis. In other words, to not turn a blind eye.

Speaking at the conference, Watson continued the message began in September of last year.

“The groundswell of response we have received in support for HeForShe tells us we are tapping into what the world wants: to be a part of change. Now we have to channel that energy into purposeful action. The pilot initiative provides that framework.”

Then she asked for more commitment. “Next we need all country leadership, as well as that of hundreds of universities and corporations to follow HeForShe’s IMPACT 10X10X10 so as to bring an end to the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.”

IMPACT focuses on major bodies of power, such as legislative branches and corporations, showing a disparity among their workers. Governmental pilot program leaders include the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands (Mark Rutte) and Sweden (Stefan Lofven), as well as President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Prime Minister Rutte feels that the “Gender equality is not a ‘woman’s issue’” but instead “extremely important for welfare and well-being of societies as a whole.”

“With full access of women to the labour force, the society at large can contribute from their creative potential, their skills, their entrepreneurship.” He continued, stating that “when women are excluded or hampered to participate, the capability to innovate, reform and adapt of societies is unnecessarily limited.”

Rutte also feels that men should do more to promote change and lift up women for positions of equal power and decision-making. “Men are and should be allies in this regard; in their capacity of managers, teachers, partners, fathers and brothers.”

In addition to Rutte’s assumption of progressive movement through women workers, President Koroma believes the “inclusion of women is a key driver to sustainable development,” an important factor in the current globalized economy. “The women I have appointed in my Government continue to prove my vision and conviction that including women makes better economic sense. I will strive to see gender equality fully realized in Sierra Leone, across the African continent and indeed in the world at large.”

Corporate representatives for the Tupperware Brands Corporation (Rick Goings), Unilever (Mr. Paul Polman), and PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd (Dennis Nally) will join the campaign, too. And Title Sponsor of the HeForShe campaign remains with financial institution JPMorgan Chase.

Unilever’s Polman believes in the project because it aligns with the company’s ideal and “ambition to empower 5 million women by 2023.” Additionally, the CEO notes that “we are promoting women’s rights, embedding the Women’s Empowerment Principles and creating concrete initiatives with UN Women on gender equality, skills building and job opportunities.”

Goings agrees with Polman and the campaign message.

“As part of our impact commitment we will be conducting a company audit based on Principle 7 of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).” Tupperware’s been considered a traditional household staple for decades, so the customer and sales associate commitment is a strong bond.

“We will strive to identify additional ways of bringing this pledge to life to increase our already robust commitment to women’s equality through our partnership with UN Women.”

Meanwhile, IMPACT 10x10x10 focuses on universities because of social engagement among students. Campuses have long since been a stronghold of political power—not just nationally or internationally, but locally—and the U.N. wants to tap into the “accelerating progress toward the achievement of gender equality” that will in turn end “violence against women.” These three things areas will tighten the hold on equality because they are the bedrock of modern, Western life: legal representation, employment, and education.

UN Women Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka opened up on what makes the HeForShe campaign so important.

“HeForShe exemplifies UN Women’s groundbreaking leadership on gender equality. We know where change is proving hardest. The HeForShe IMPACT Initiative puts responsibility for change right where it matters- and spotlights leaders who can make it happen.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka praised influential leaders willing to test the waters in creating change as well. “The founding Champions from industry and government will pave the way for others to join in, using the pilot initiatives to streamline decision-making on relevant and successful activities.”

But it won’t be an easy battle. “Ultimately we need everyone to get involved if we are to turn the tide.”

Social media is helping to ride the tide, though. Over 1.2 billion people have pledged for change on various platforms and over 200,000 men and boys have committed to gender equality on the campaign’s “HeForShe Commitments API.” The API is geo-localized to show where the change is happening by the men who promise to eradicate inequality.

While the overall HeForShe campaign has received a lot of positive feedback, some people feel the Watson’s privileged background was not an indicator of real change or struggle. However, one must also look at the fact Watson is not the mastermind of the campaign, but a success Hollywood child star turned college graduate looking to effect change. She is only the latest voice of the future and her experiences shouldn’t be dismissed.

Additionally, charges of male inequality towards were leveled at the program. Of course, the most basic definition of feminism addresses that pretty well: “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

In a time where many female celebrities decry or ignore questions on feminism because of constant backlash, Watson openly calls for more inclusion. If her attempts are not 100% inclusive, that is because the movement itself is not singular—but the one thing all parts of the whole want is gender equality. Nor will society suddenly change overnight but speaking up offers more young celebrities the chance to learn about the importance of gender equality.

HeForShe is not slowing down anytime soon. The U.N. is a on a mission to show more leadership and perhaps this is the first step in practicing what is being preached. IMPACT 10x10x10’s pilot program offers real solutions for a very real problem for many women.


Sources: HeForShe, XOJane, Time

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