Since I was 15, feminism has been the topic of many, many discussions, and it will probably continue to be so for years to come. However the reason for me to bring up feminism today, is the speech Emma Watson recently gave at the UN convention to launch the Campaign “HeForShe”, as miss Watson is now the United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.
Emma Watson is an incredible woman, and I deeply admire her for her ability to always take the high road and making smart look sexy. Therefore it came as no surprise, when her speech for the HeForShe campaign was both inspiring, personal and captivating. She touched upon the stereotypes of what a girl should do and be like, and negative experiences she has had throughout her life, which are all reasons why she has accepted the post as ambassador and why she is a self-proclaimed feminist.
The responses to this speech and the HeForShe campaign has been divided; several male celebrities have posted pictures of themselves holding up signs saying “#HeForShe”, and on the opposite side news have spread the message of hackers threatening to leak nude pictures of Emma Watson as revenge.
In my opinion both reactions are stupid! First of all, threats about publicising intimate photographs of someone as punishment is just juvenile and an illogical way of persuading people to change their minds. The idea seems so pointless to me? Call me a hippie, but I don’t understand why we keep sexualising and degrading the naked body. It’s natural – we all have bums, genitals and what not, so why do we need to be ashamed? Oh well, I could go on about that for a good while, so to get back on track: Threats = Bad!
With the obvious stated, I want to look at the shared photographs and statements. The intention is good, but the result is useless! These pictures are turning into yet another ALS challenge, with users mindlessly sharing them, without even realising what the actual point is. What good is it to have some A-list celebrity sharing a photo of himself holding a sign with a hashtag, if no one actually bothers addressing the issue of the cause: equal rights for woman!
Because it is an issue. It has over 100 year since the Suffragette Movement, and still women are being paid less than men for the same jobs! Appalling, however it goes deeper than that: Indian child brides, uneducated African girls, women facing many challenges when pursuing a career because of the “risk of pregnancy” and general stereotyping about what a woman should behave like.
For me one of most pressing issues is the heavily debated topic of board quotations to ensure a more equal representation of women. Currently, looking at European countries the Scandinavian countries (excluding Norway) set the best example with an average of around 19-23% females board directors, whereas countries like the UAE have less than 2%. The argued solutions to the problem has once again left the waters a divided:
On one side you have a strong representation of politicians, business men and woman – even co-founder of Jimmi Choo Tamara Mellon, who argues that quotations is the only way forward. On the other side you find the same type of people – including former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who does not believe in quotations.
In some countries these quotations are already in place; in Norway there has to be a minimum of 40% female board directors, which means the current average is 41%. This all sounds really great, but does 40% make it equal? Why not 50%? And what good is this when the representation doesn’t follow through the pipelines of the organisational structure? Also, why are we only approaching the aspect of women in business? Why not the small representation of men in schools, nurseries and the health care sector. Pointless if you ask me! We need to change the mindset of people, and we need to loosen up on the gender stereotyping.
I believe, one of the companies we should look towards for guidance is H&M; with over 45% women on the board of directors, H&M sets a brilliant example. When asked about the reason for the unusually high female representation, they argue that it has nothing to do with quotations, but rather the importance of acquiring a wide range of skills, personalities and backgrounds (both in terms of age, gender, culture etc) to ensure the optimum pool of knowledge.
Very clever, H&M – that’s the way forward!