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Emma Watson Gender Equality Speech: Rhetorical Analysis

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Published: Aug 14, 2023

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Introduction, analysis of emma watson's gender equality speech, reflection of speech, audience and purpose, persuasive techniques, speech delivery, body language.

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Emma Watson’s Magic Spell in Gender Equality: The Use of Rhetorical Devices in “Heforshe” Campaign

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Journal of Culture, Arts, Literature, and Linguistics (CaLLs)

A movement to raise awareness towards gender equality issue has been promoted by the UN through the campaign called “HeforShe”. To influence people toward the issue, Emma Watson, who is famous with her character as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter series, is appointed as the ambassador of this campaign. Emma Watson capability to convey messages about gender equality cannot be underrated. It can be seen from the strategies that she used in presenting her speech, which is in particular called as rhetorical devices. In that case, this paper aims to explore the use of rhetorical devices in Emma Watson’s speech which includes the rule of three, parallelism, and variation of personal pronoun use.Keywords: discourse, speech, rhetorical devices

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Emma Watson: Gender equality is your issue too

Date: Saturday, 20 September 2014

Speech by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson at a special event for the HeForShe campaign, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 20 September 2014

[Check against delivery.]

Today we are launching a campaign called “ HeForShe .”

I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved.

This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.

When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”

When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.

Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.

These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are changing the world today. And we need more of those.

And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1995, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.

But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.

I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.  

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that 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 feel compelled 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. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom. 

I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too—reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me, I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something. English Statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I’ve told myself firmly—if not me, who, if not now, when. If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.

Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.

If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier.

And for this I applaud you.

We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the "he" for "she". And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?

Also available in: French ; Spanish ; Portuguese

To see a video of Emma delivering her speech, visit HeForShe.org

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Emma Watson’s UN speech: what our reaction says about feminism

emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

Research Fellow, Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention, Deakin University

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Michelle Smith has previously received funding from the Australian Research Council.

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emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

It is now more than a week since actress Emma Watson delivered what has repeatedly been described as a “game-changing” speech about sexism at the United Nations New York headquarters. The response to the speech, which launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign for gender equality, has been massive, but not universally positive.

Watson’s speech , which extended a “formal invitation” to men to participate in conversations about gender equality, has been highly praised, radically critiqued, and acted as a spur to a bizarre hoax involving a threat to publish nude photographs of Watson.

Just how can young feminists get their message across in such a complicated climate?

Did Watson really change the game?

Much of Watson’s speech contained fairly basic points about feminism that have nevertheless been distorted in light of the increasing normalisation of anti-feminism, as is evident in the #womenagainstfeminism hashtag. Watson is right that feminism is not innately about “man hating”. Nevertheless, a number of feminists have clarified that not hating men does not necessarily equate to needing the direct involvement of men to advance women’s rights.

As Mia McKenzie points out at Black Girl Dangerous, it is simplistic to assume men have not been involved in work toward gender equality simply because they haven’t been “invited”. McKenzie argues that the more logical reason why men have not been extensively involved is because they “benefit HUGELY (socially, economically, politically, etc. infinity) from gender inequality and therefore have much less incentive to support its dismantling”.

A number of feminists, including Australian journalist Clementine Ford , took issue with Watson’s emphasis on “men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes” and men’s “freedom” being the key to changing the situation for women. As Ford notes, while patriarchal structures do have some negative consequences for men, their affect on men is different and not as “drastically violent” as their toll on women. Moreover, men systematically benefit from the power conferred on them by those gender stereotypes.

In contrast, girls and women are more likely to find themselves unable to receive an education, being subject to violence or sexual assault, being paid less than men, or unable to make their own life decisions.

For example, it’s now almost six months since 270 Nigerian schoolgirls were captured by Boko Haram, who oppose girls’ education and are likely using the girls as domestic and sexual slaves. The international #BringBackOurGirls campaign has not been able to free a single one.

Watson’s speech has also been critiqued for ignoring the issue of intersectionality. The gender inequality that she describes as part of her experiences (being called “bossy” as a child, being sexualised by the media, and having friends who abandon sport because they don’t want to become “too muscly”) is the kind that affects comparatively privileged, white, middle-class, Western women.

Blackfeministkilljoy and The Middle Eastern Feminist , among others, explain that women of colour experience different kinds of discrimination to those that Watson has felt. Yet her speech made no reference to how other women’s lives might differ, or might be more difficult because the effects of gender, race, class, sexuality, class and disability discrimination can magnify each other.

The voices of women who lack the privilege of a wealthy, white woman like Watson – those who suffer most at the hands of gender inequality – have not been given the same platform or the same global attention.

In addition, Watson has also been criticised for reinforcing the gender binary , thereby dismissing the issues facing transgender people – though transgender model Geena Rocero has spoken out in support of Watson’s definition of gender as “a spectrum”.

Could Watson ever please everyone?

Many of the points raised by feminists about Watson’s speech, including questioning just how effective an online pledge will be in changing the violence and discrimination enacted on women, have merit. But there is little about Watson and her speech, including her highly feminine appearance, her nervous delivery, and her heterosexuality that has escaped criticism.

Feminists have been careful to explain they are not aiming to tear Watson down and to acknowledge that elements of her speech could provide an accessible introduction to feminism. Yet the ability of white, privileged celebrity to act as a spokesperson for women’s rights on a global scale is immensely fraught.

It is Watson’s fame and image that make her the kind of person who can inspire widespread interest in the topic of women’s rights. Yet those same qualities are also seen as detrimental to the cause because they work to present a concept of gender equality that is palatable to men, as does the HeForShe campaign.

The question is whether a marketable and non-threatening brand of feminism founded on the most acceptable model of femininity could every really dislodge the power structures that make such an approach necessary in the first place.

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Full Transcript of Emma Watson's 2016 U.N. Speech on Gender Equality

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Actress Emma Watson, a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador , has used her fame and activism to shine a spotlight on gender inequality and sexual assault at universities and colleges around the world. In September 2016, the "Harry Potter" star delivered a speech about the gender double standards that many women encounter when they study and work at universities. 

This address was a followup to a speech she made two years earlier after launching a gender equality initiative called HeForShe at the U.N. headquarters in New York . Then, she focused on global gender inequality and the role that  men and boys must play to fight for justice for girls and women . Her 2016 speech echoed these concerns while specifically focusing on sexism in academia.

Speaking Out for Women

A feminist , Emma Watson used her September 20, 2016, appearance at the U.N. to announce the publication of the first  HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report . It documents the pervasiveness of gender inequality across the globe and the commitment 10 university presidents made to fight this problem.

During her speech, Watson linked the gender disparities on college campuses to the widespread problem of sexual violence that many women experience while pursuing higher education. She said:

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.

Reaction to Watson's Speech

Emma Watson's 2016 U.N. speech on gender equality on college campuses has netted more than 600,000 YouTube views . In addition, her words garnered headlines from publications such as Fortune , Vogue , and Elle .

Since the actress, a Brown University graduate, gave her speech, new challenges have emerged. In 2016, Watson was hopeful that the United States would elect its first female president. Instead, voters elected Donald Trump, who appointed Betsy DeVos as his education secretary. DeVos has overhauled how colleges respond to sexual assault claims , making procedures more difficult for victims, her critics argue. They say the proposed changes to Obama-era educational policies will make women more vulnerable on college campuses.

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Rhetorical analysis – emma watson’s un address.

For my rhetorical analysis essay, I plan to analyze the written text of the speech that actress Emma Watson gave at the United Nations headquarters on September 20, 2014 regarding gender equality.

Video – Emma Watson HeForShe Speech

Watson was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women about six months prior to giving her speech, and she used this opportunity to promote a new program that UN Women is sponsoring called HeForShe. The goal of the HeForShe initiative is to encourage men and boys to support gender equality, not only to help empower women, but also to free men from their own gender stereotypes. Watson’s speech addressed this issue in conjunction with her own experiences with gender inequality as a means to encourage both men and women to identify as feminists.

I first came across this speech last week when it was posted online, and I was immediately drawn in because, like most of my generation, I am a pretty big fan of Emma Watson, who is best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise. However, what made me choose to analyze this speech is not that fact that Watson is a famous actress whom I admire, but rather that the content of her speech evokes a message that I too believe is important. Furthermore, I felt that the way in which she presented her argument was both effective and unique

This speech has many rhetorical elements that could be analyzed, but I am going to focus on the written text of the speech rather than Watson’s delivery. In my essay, I intend to investigate how useful the facts and statistics that Watson uses are to her argument. Second, I plan to examine her use of personal anecdotes and how they express pathos. Finally, I plan to look at how Watson uses her ethos as an actress to explain why she is “qualified” to speak out about gender equality.

I look forward to analyzing the text of Watson’s speech, as well as researching the topic of gender equality with regards to men and women!

1 Comment on Rhetorical Analysis – Emma Watson’s UN address

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Emmy Louise Demchak

This should be a really good analysis! Whenever we talked in class about the ethos of celebrities I definitely thought of this speech, and how it is much more credible in my mind than when celebrities get payed to do campaigns (mainly PEETA popped into my mind for that). Emma was very moving in this speech, and i think it will make for an essay that is as exciting as analysis can get!

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IMAGES

  1. Emma Watson's Speech on Gender Equality

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

  2. Emma Watson's UN Speech on Gender Equality

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

  3. Emma Watson: Emotional, Inspirational, And Powerful Words On Gender

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

  4. Emma Watson Delivers Powerful Gender Equality Speech to UN

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

  5. Emma Watson Gender Inequality Speech Analysis

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

  6. Emma Watson: UN Gender Equality Speech

    emma watson speech on gender equality rhetorical analysis

VIDEO

  1. GENDER EQUALITY : Emma Watson

  2. Jashlie speech on gender equality. by Emma watson's

  3. Emma Watson's Inspiring Speech

  4. EMMA WATSON- BG English Speech

  5. Emma Watson tells Men they need to be more like Women in UN Speech: I'm A Feminist

COMMENTS

  1. Emma Watson Gender Equality Speech: Rhetorical Analysis

    The argument that Emma Watson wanted to put across was taken in her gender equality speech at the United Nations (UN), in September 2014 and influenced many people around the world since then. Emma's speech spoke about the idea of gender inequality, whether that was socially, economically or politically. However she didn't just want to talk ...

  2. PDF Full Transcript of Emma Watson's Speech on Gender Equality at the UN

    pledge to join the feminist fight for gender equality. In the speech Ms. Watson makes the very important point that in order for gender equality to be achieved, harmful and destructive stereotypes of and expectations for masculinity have got to change. Below is the full transcript of her thirteen-minute speech. Today we are launching a campaign ...

  3. Emma Watson's HeForShe Speech

    Analysis. Here is a short summary of our analysis of the "HeForShe Speech" by Emma Watson. Emma Watson' speech revolves around the topics of gender inequality and gender roles. More specifically, it is about how stereotypical gender roles contribute to creating and preserving gender inequality. As a speaker, Emma Watson comes across as ...

  4. Speech Analysis

    On September 22, 2014, Emma Watson addressed the United Nations on the topic of feminism and a campaign she started called HeForShe. Within the first two minutes of her speech, Emma Watson makes use of direct eye contact, definition, and appeals to pathos in order to convince the United Nations of the importance of the campaign for which she is advocating.

  5. PDF Critical Discourse Analysis of Emma Watson's Speech at 'He for She

    In her speech, she invited men to support gender equality through the 'HeforShe' campaign. 'The concept of feminism is promoting the ideology of hating men' in society and every man in society must participate to end gender inequality, if women can stand for their rights, then men can raise their voices too. Every gender which lives in ...

  6. "Feminism" and Feminism: A Rhetorical Criticism of Emma Watson's

    Watson recognizes this when she. says that feminism is "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,". yet many choose not to identify as feminists in fear of being ...

  7. Transitivity and Critical Discourse Analysis on Emma Watson's Speech at

    This study used Feminist Rhetorical Criticism and Speech Act Theory to unveil the misconceptions, re-introduce the terms feminism and gender equality, identify the key terms used in the speech to correct such misconceptions, and understand the intended meanings attached to the context of the speech by Emma Watson during the launch of the ...

  8. Emma Watson's UN Speech on Gender Equality

    On Sep. 20, 2014, British actor and Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women Emma Watson gave a smart, important, and moving speech about gender inequality and how to fight it. In doing so, she launched the HeForShe initiative, which aims to get men and boys to join the feminist fight for gender equality. In the speech, Watson made the important ...

  9. (PDF) Title: An Analysis on the HeForShe Speech of Emma Watson in

    This research is focused on analyzing Emma Watson's speech on gender equality and feminism in relation to correcting misconceptions regarding the said social issues. ... illocutionary, and perlocutionary meanings of the citations are also embedded in the rhetorical analysis. The first step in the method is to identify the three elements of ...

  10. Emma Watson's Magic Spell in Gender Equality: The Use of Rhetorical

    50 CaLLs, Volume 1 Nomor 2 Desember 2015 Nita Maya Valiantien - Emma Watson's Magic Spell in Gender Equality RHETORICAL DEVICES "HEFORSHE" CAMPAIGN IN EMMA WATSON'S SPEECH IN In order to get attention from the audiences of her speech, Emma Watson tries to create connection between her and the people who typically know her as an actress.

  11. PDF Transitivity and Critical Discourse Analysis on Emma Watson's Speech at

    Transitivity and Critical Discourse Analysis on Emma Watson's Speech at the Launching of UN Women "HeForShe" Campaign 1stRoza Puspita English Language Study ... the clauses and/or sentences which show Watson's ideology of gender equality and her hopes for the future regarding the issue. Following the data collection, the writers analyze ...

  12. Emma Watson Gender equality is your issue too

    Emma Watson: Gender equality is your issue too. Speech by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson at a special event for the HeForShe campaign, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 20 September 2014. [Check against delivery.] Today we are launching a campaign called " HeForShe .". I am reaching out to you because I need your help.

  13. Emma Watson'S Magic Spell in Gender Equality: the Use of Rhetorical

    Emma Watson capability to convey messages about gender equality cannot be underrated. It can be seen from the strategies that she used in presenting her speech, which is in particular called as ...

  14. Emma Watson's UN speech: what our reaction says about feminism

    Watson's speech, which extended a "formal invitation" to men to participate in conversations about gender equality, has been highly praised, radically critiqued, and acted as a spur to a ...

  15. Logos, ethos and pathos in Emma Watson's HeForShe Speech

    Modes of persuasion are also considered rhetorical devices. They refer to the strategy a sender uses to make a speech more appealing and convincing. These are pathos—appealing to emotions, ethos—appealing to trust, authority, and shared values, and logos—appealing to logical reasoning. In her "HeForShe Speech", Emma Watson uses all ...

  16. Critical Discourse Analysis of Emma Watson's Speech at ...

    The speech contained Emma Watson's opinion on gender equality and feminism in the world community. This research was aimed at avoiding any misperceptions in responding to the speech delivered by ...

  17. Rhetorical devices of Emma Watson's HeForShe Speech

    Rhetorical devices. Rhetorical devices are language techniques used to make a speech more interesting, convincing, or memorable. The most used rhetorical devices in Emma Watson's "HeForShe Speech", are enumerations and repetitions, rhetorical questions, and direct address. Additionally, the speaker utilises several allusions to support ...

  18. Rhetorical Analysis Of Emma Watson's Speech

    Rhetorical Analysis Of Emma Watson's Speech. 1057 Words5 Pages. Emma Watson's speech at the United Nations, launching the HeForShe campaign, challenges her audience's views on feminism. The speech captures the misconceptions of men and feminism through a range of effective language techniques. Watson appeals to her audience, members of the ...

  19. Small Start To My Rhetorical Analysis of Emma Watson's "HeforShe" Speech

    The "He for She" campaign is mainly for women, but it also challenges the idea that gender equality is solely a women's problem. In her speech, Watson clearly states "Men don't have the benefits of equality either.". She exemplifies how society has valued her father's parental role less than her mother's, and how the fear of ...

  20. Read Emma Watson's 2016 U.N. Speech on Gender Equality

    A feminist, Emma Watson used her September 20, 2016, appearance at the U.N. to announce the publication of the first HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report. It documents the pervasiveness of gender inequality across the globe and the commitment 10 university presidents made to fight this problem. During her speech, Watson linked the ...

  21. Emma Watson's Magic Spell in Gender Equality: the Use of Rhetorical

    A movement to raise awareness towards gender equality issue has been promoted by the UN through the campaign called "HeforShe". To influence people toward the issue, Emma Watson, who is famous with her character as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter series, is appointed as the ambassador of this campaign. Emma Watson capability to convey messages about gender equality cannot be underrated ...

  22. Rhetorical Analysis

    For my rhetorical analysis essay, I plan to analyze the written text of the speech that actress Emma Watson gave at the United Nations headquarters on September 20, 2014 regarding gender equality.. Video - Emma Watson HeForShe Speech. Watson was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women about six months prior to giving her speech, and she used this opportunity to promote a new program that ...

  23. PDF (00$:$7621•6 Magic Spell in Gender Equality: the Use of Rhetorical

    Emma Watson is notably known as Hermione Granger, a smart student girl in Harry Potter movie series. The image of Emma Watson as a smart young woman who successfully obtains many achievements equal to man represents the idea of gender equality. As the ambassador of the campaign, she speaks up her ideas about gender equality through a speech in ...