When Emma met Malala: The discourse on gender equality crosses borders
Malala Yousafzai’s He Named Me Malala, a film based on Malala’s life and her struggle for girls’ education, has been released all over the world. Emma Watson, actress and United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador, who also spearheads United Nations #HeForShe movement that involves men and boys to work towards gender equality, met Malala and these two extraordinary women sat down and spoke for a few minutes. Their discussion encapsulates how the discourse on gender equality should move forward.
Malala and Emma speak at length about the problems with the word ‘feminist’ and how this word sometimes has negative connotations. Malala speaks about her father who has been her biggest supporter in her long and difficult journey.
What is extraordinary about Malala’s film is that it depicts her as an ordinary girl. Malala stresses,
“I’m still a 17-year-old girl.”
Her brother cheekily admits that she’s “a little bit naughty” and she giggles as she tell us that she has a crush on Roger Federer.
The film situates her as an icon for women’s education without making her seem otherworldly. Malala recounts her struggle in Swat and stresses that her mission in life is to make education accessible to the 66 million girls who are out of schools and who are just like her. It is a touching account of a beautiful relationship between a father and a daughter. It illustrates how a father’s support for his daughter can go a long way.
Malala and Emma belong to two completely different worlds – yet their ideas about gender equality, when it comes to women and empowerment of women, are incredibly similar. This little exchange illustrates that feminism isn’t about rejecting familial values or hating men – rather it is about the simple idea that men and women are equal and anyone who believes in this simple idea, is a feminist.
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