Malala Yousafzai And Emma Watson

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The United Nations hosted both Malala Yousfzai and Emma Watson in different years at the General Assembly to present their campaigns. Watson is a GoodWill ambassador and runs the campaign HeForShe which advocates for gender equality, while Yousafzai fights for the right to education for every child. Despite being only sixteen years old, the Pakistani activist delivered her speech with great confidence and was often interrupted by applause. Watson on the other hand, even though she is older and has more experience with public speaking; delivered her speech with less confidence. Both finished their speeches receiving standing ovations, for how moving, powerful, and necessary.

Malala Yousafzai advocates, “one child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world”(Transcript Yousafzai Speech 34) It is through education and peace that change will occur. Malala Yousafzai’s first-hand experience was a tragic one, she was shot at fifteen by the Taliban extremist group, simply for promoting girls’ education in Pakistan. Instead, Watson’s motivation is less dramatic but very common in the western world. Watson first started to notice the unjust treatment between boys and girls, when being called “bossy” simply for wanting to direct a play with her siblings, whereas the boys were not.

Yousafzai has to fight for the very basic right to education and sports, girls in her world do not have the luxury of choice and are banned from participating. Meanwhile, in Watson’s world (our world) education is guaranteed, and girls have the luxury of choice. Watson mentions how young women choose to drop out of sports to control how they appear. It is ironic, how girls have little awareness of all the achievements conquered by feminist movements in the western world. Furthermore, the British actress emphasizes the meaning of the word feminism, mentions how its original meaning has been lost, and how everyone needs to participate to make a difference. Meanwhile, Malala emphasizes the need for peace for change and the love for one another.

The audiences react and relate to Watson and Yousafzai because they use personal experiences instead of relying on numbers and statistics. In addition, Watson is very inclusive and encourages men to take part in this campaign because they suffer from prejudice. Yousafzai’s message also includes everyone, since her message is about peace, “So, let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”(Transcript of Yousafzai speech 33).

These two young activists from different backgrounds share the same passion for change and female empowerment. Watson does sadly state “No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.”(CommonLit 14) but their message is that together in the fight the world can achieve these crucial goals and help make a difference in our society, not through hate.  

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