Emma Watson has been an outspoken advocate for gender equality as the ambassador of HeforShe, the UN’s gender equality movement. Earlier this week, she delivered another powerful speech regarding campus sexual assault. In it, she detailed her own experience at Brown, and called for immediate campus sexual assault policy reform at all universities, as well as an increase in female leadership roles.
“I know that my university experience shaped who I am, and of course, it does for many people,” she said. “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?”
She continued by asserting how universities need to support female students. “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,” she argued. “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, that they belong within the leadership of the university itself.”
Watson urged universities to “make it clear that the safety of women, minorities and anyone who may be vulnerable, is a right, not a privilege,” believing changes at the university level can ignite changes across the world.
“A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence,” she concluded. “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.”
Watch Watson’s full speech, below.