Full Transcript of Emma Watson's 2016 UN Speech on Gender Equality

Celebrating Two Years of the HeForShe Global Campaign

Emma Watson, pictured at the 'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology' Costume Institute Gala, gave a speech at the UN in September 2016 about gender equality within higher education and the problem of rape culture on college campuses.
Emma Watson attends the 'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Emma Watson, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador, is using her fame and position with the United Nations to shine a spotlight on the problem of gender inequality and sexual assault at universities and colleges around the world.

Watson made headlines in September 2014 when she launched a gender equality initiative called HeForShe with a rousing speech at the UN headquarters in New York. The speech focused on gender inequality around the world and the important role that men and boys must play in fighting for equality for girls and women.

In a more recent speech given at the UN headquarters in September 2016, Ms. Watson turned her attention to the gender double standards that many women encounter when they study and work at universities. Importantly, she connects this issue to the widespread problem of sexual violence that many women experience in the course of pursuing higher education.

Ms. Watson, a proud feminist, also used the occasion to announce the publication of the first HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report, which details the challenges of gender inequality and the commitments to fighting them made by ten university presidents from around the world.

The full transcript of her speech follows.

Thank you all for being here for this important moment. These men from all over the world have decided to make gender equality a priority in their lives and in their universities. Thank you for making this commitment.

I graduated from university four years ago. I had always dreamed of going and I know how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to do so. Brown [University] became my home, my community, and I took the ideas and the experiences I had there into all of my social interactions, into my workplace, into my politics, into all aspects of my life. I know that my university experience shaped who I am, and of course, it does for many people.

But what if our experience at university shows us that women don't belong in leadership? What if it shows us that, yes, women can study, but they shouldn't lead a seminar? What if, as still in many places around the world, it tells us that women don't belong there at all? What if, as is the case in far too many universities, we are given the message that sexual violence isn't actually a form of violence?

But we know that if you change students' experiences so they have different expectations of the world around them, expectations of equality, society will change. As we leave home for the first time to study at the places that we have worked so hard to get, we must not see or experience double standards. We need to see equal respect, leadership, and pay.

The university experience must tell women that their brain power is valued, and not just that, but that they belong among the leadership of the university itself. And so importantly, right now, the experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable is a right and not a privilege. A right that will be respected by a community that believes and supports survivors. And that recognizes that when one person's safety is violated, everyone feels that their own safety is violated. A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence.

That's why we believe that students should leave university believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality. Societies of true equality in every sense, and that universities have the power to be a vital catalyst for that change.

Our ten impact champions have made this commitment and with their work we know they will inspire students and other universities and schools across the world to do better. I'm delighted to introduce this report and our progress, and I'm eager to hear what's next. Thank you so much.