Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women and actress Emma Watson had the great honor to interview Malala Yousafzai yesterday on the opening day of the Into Film Festival about He Named Me Malala, the new documentary that captures the extraordinary events of her young life. About 4 minutes into their conversation, Emma mentioned Malala’s father, a staunch advocate for girls’ rights, and then asked Malala to address to the notion than men can’t be feminists. Emma was visibly moved by what the Nobel Laureate said next.
Malala started her eloquent response by saying that her father has “set an example for all parents and all men” and in the global fight for equal rights for women “men have to step forward” and lend their support. She added that men can’t think of this as a job for “a few women” or (with a smile on her face) that “crazy feminists are going to change it.” She said, “It’s not going to happen like this. We all have to work together. That’s how change will come.”
The brave crusader, girls’ education activist, and author then turned her focus to the sadly divisive and misunderstood F-words… feminism and feminist.
“I am a feminist and we all should be feminists because feminism is another word for equality.”
“This word feminism has been a very tricky word,” Malala said to Emma. “When I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and some positive ones, and I hesitated in saying am I a feminist or not. And then, after hearing your speech when you said, ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided there is nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist.” She concluded, “So I am a feminist and we all should be feminists because feminism is another word for equality.”
Of the moving moment, Emma Watson wrote the following on her personal Facebook page, which has a powerful closing message that everyone should heed…
“To give you some background, I had initially planned to ask Malala whether or not she was a feminist but then researched to see whether she had used this word to describe herself. Having seen that she hadn’t, I decided to take the question out before the day of our interview. To my utter shock Malala put the question back into one of her own answers and identified herself. Maybe feminist isn’t the easiest word to use… But she did it ANYWAY. You can probably see in the interview how I felt about this. She also gave me time at the end of the Q&A to speak about some of my own work, which she most certainly didn’t need to do, I was there to interview her. I think this gesture is so emblematic of what Malala and I went on to discuss. I’ve spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalized movement it is too. We are all moving towards the same goal. Let’s not make it scary to say you’re a feminist. I want to make it a welcoming and inclusive movement. Let’s join our hands and move together so we can make real change. Malala and I are pretty serious about it but we need you.”
You can watch Emma’s entire interview with Malala here: