THE United Nations’ Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, extended an invitation to everyone to join the global movement for gender equality recently through the HeForShe campaign. And now I’m here to encourage you to accept it.

For the longest time, women around the world have been treated unfairly – be it within their families, at the workplace or the society they live in. And there’s really no denying that it still happens today, despite the efforts of many over the years who have fought for women’s rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt, for instance, said during her 1958 speech titled “In Our Hands”, delivered on the 10th Declaration of Human Rights: “Every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination”.

In 1993, former first lady Hilary Clinton said: “There is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realise her God-given potential.”

These women have paved the way for many others like Beyoncé Knowles, Malala Yousafzai and Emma Sulkowicz who have been vocal advocates for gender equality in their own admirable ways.

Then why is it that there still isn’t a single country which can claim to have achieved gender equality throughout the whole nation?

Watson, in her now-famous speech at the launch of the HeForShe campaign, said perhaps it’s because many campaigns advocating the rights of women do not make the male population feel like they’re part of the discussion. She believes, however, that gender inequality should be a men’s issue as well.

So, boys and men, what say you? Will you the join 168,306 men (at press time) who have committed to take a stand for gender equality on the HeForShe website (

But if you do decide to stand up for this movement, consider taking action beyond signing the pledge on the website and sharing the #HeForShe hashtag on social media. We need to start standing up for people – both men and women – who are being treated unfairly under any circumstances.

If you still have your doubts about committing yourself to this movement, check out Watson’s speech and remember those powerful words she said: “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

The writer is a member of our BRATs young journalist programme. To find out more, and to apply for BRATs 2015, go to


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