Don’t let the media backlash distract you from what Emma Watson’s UN speech actually said

Here are the most important parts

There’s been a lot of bullshit surrounding Emma Watson and her empowering speech on sexual assault in universities and colleges. Far from being ‘lefty, PC crap’ as The Sun’s Rod Liddle labelled it, the speech covered important aspects of the vulnerability felt by students on campus, especially women and minority students.

Watson used her platform as UN Goodwill Ambassador to highlight some important points. Points we shouldn’t look over. Points which shouldn’t get lost in the external faff from past-it journalists who don’t understand the meaning in what she’s trying to say.

‘What if our experiences at university show us that women don’t belong in leadership?’

In the UK, only 35 per cent of academics working in higher education are female. If we do not see other women succeeding and advancing in their field, then where does our inspiration come from? How do we, as women, find the strength to strive towards leadership roles, either in academia or within the fields that we study in university?

In figures released recently, over 70 per cent of women with STEM degrees do not progress into related employment. It’s clearly still a problem – and we should address it at university level, or even before.

‘The university experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities and anyone who may be vulnerable, is a right and not a privilege.’

This is incredibly important, as recent figures show 1 in 3 women in UK universities experience sexual assault or harassment in their time on campus. It is the responsibility of these universities to provide the support to vulnerable people and to make it accessible to all.

Very importantly, these institutions must make it a priority to ensure these people do not feel like a burden when asking for help. As Watson said, safety is a right and not a privilege, meaning that it should be an expectation of all universities to provide this support for their students.

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‘Students should leave universities believing in, striving for, and expecting societies of true equality in every sense, and that universities have the power to make that change.’

For me at least, this is possibly the most important part of Emma’s speech. It’s where she highlights the immense amount of influence universities have on the future of our society. It is in university that the majority of our future world leaders, future politicians and future ambassadors become fully-fledged adults. Showing students that equality is possible within a university campus will hopefully encourage them to be ambassadors for gender equality on a national and global scale after graduation.

Emma Watson is much more that a ‘luvvie sleb’, she is a beacon of hope for a more equal society in our future. Over 1 million men have pledged their commitment for her HeForShe campaign. She’s also encouraging change in universities, businesses and governments through the 10x10x10 campaign which includes 10 university presidents, 10 CEOs and 10 world leaders that have promised to use their influence to expand the opportunities for women within their fields.

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