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watch emma watson's powerful speech on campus sexual assault

"The experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable, is a right, not a privilege," the actress and U.N. ambassador declared yesterday while presenting HeForShe's groundbreaking new report.

by Hannah Ongley
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21 September 2016, 5:50pm

As a woman who is alive in 2016, Emma Watson is no stranger to very specific experiences of sexual violence. Just yesterday it was revealed that the actress and U.N. goodwill ambassador, who in the past has called out paparazzi for trying to up-skirt her as young teenager, sent a cease-and-desist letter to a garbage gossip website that had posted photos of her in a sheer shirt and no bra. Yesterday Watson turned her attention to another form of violence that has become endemic in recent years: campus sexual assault. 

Presenting HeForShe's IMPACT report on gender equality in universities to the United Nations on Tuesday, Watson began by talking about her own formative and mostly positive experience at Brown. She then asked the room to consider that many university experiences are far less constructive. "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 shows 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?"

The HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 was first introduced by Watson in 2015. The initiative assembles 10 heads of state, 10 global CEOs, and 10 university presidents from eight countries to expedite gender equality in governments, businesses, and college campuses. "The [university] experience must make it clear that the safety of women, minorities, and anyone who may be vulnerable, is a right, not a privilege," said Watson yesterday. "A right that will be respected by a community that believes and supports survivors, and that recognises that when one person's safety is violated, everyone feels their own safety is violated. A university should be a place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence."

According to HeForShe, the 10 universities have committed to monitoring their progress on 30 commitments. 70% have committed to closing the gender gap in administration; 40% to closing the gender gap in academia; 30% to creating centres of excellence in gender equality; and 40% to ending violence on campus. Clearly those numbers aren't the end goal, but if anyone can boost them, it's the woman who has been a badass feminist icon off-screen and on since she was just 11 years old. 

Related link: Why Emma Sulkowicz is more than a "mattress feminist"

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Text Hannah Ongley
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