Malala Yousafzai reveals that Emma Watson is the reason she identifies as a feminist

Malala Yousafzai reveals that Emma Watson is the reason she identifies as a feminist

Two of the strongest young women in the public eye today meets and finds out they have been each other's inspiration

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One activist, one actress, both feminists.
Photos: AFP and AP

Malala Yousafzai has told Emma Watson that the actor's speech to world leaders made her change her mind about not describing herself as a feminist.

The 18-year-old human rights and education champion from Pakistan met the film star at the premiere of a documentary about her, called He Named Me Malala.

Yousafzai, a Nobel peace prize winner, said she initially thought feminism was a “tricky word” but now believed everyone should be a feminist.

Watson, a UN global goodwill ambassador for women, gave a speech to the UN last year to launch her He for She campaign, aimed at encouraging men to speak up for women’s rights.


Yousafzai began promoting education for girls in 2009 when she was just 12. She was 15, living in Pakistan, when she was shot in the head in October 2012, for speaking out against the Taliban and its ban on female education.

Yousafzai told Watson that, for her, the word "feminist" "has been a tricky word. When I heard it the first time I heard some negative responses and some positive ones. Then after hearing your speech I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.”

Men “have to step forward” to promote equality of the sexes, Yousafzai said.

Watson posted a video of the interview on her Facebook page and said she found Yousafzai’s admission moving. She said: “Perhaps the most moving moment of today for me was when Malala addressed the issue of feminism. 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.

 
Into Film Festival opening Q&A

Today I met Malala. She was giving, utterly graceful, compelling and intelligent. That might sound obvious but I was struck by this even more in person. There are lots of NGOs out there in the world doing great things... But if there were one I would put my money on to succeed and make change on this planet, it would be hers. (The Malala Fund). Malala isn't messing around or mincing her words (one of the many reasons I love her). She has the strength of her convictions coupled with the kind of determination I rarely encounter... And it doesn't seem to have been diminished by the success she has already had. And lastly…She has a sense of peace around her. I leave this for last because it is perhaps the most important. Maybe as a result of what she has been through? I personally think it is just who she is…Perhaps the most moving moment of today for me was when Malala addressed the issue of feminism. 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. With love, Emma x#HeNamedMeMalala #notjustamovieamovement Malala Fund Into Film

Posted by Emma Watson on Wednesday, 4 November 2015

 

“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."

“Let’s not make it scary to say you’re a feminist," Watson said. "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.”

Yousafzai has been living in Birmingham with her family since the assassination attempt. She is studying for A-levels in history, economics, maths and religious studies and plans could include going to Oxford University, or Stanford, in California.

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