From brewing potions to brewing change.

By Mary Menzemer, Opinion Editor

Emma Watson, actress turned human rights advocate, delivered an extremely powerful speech at the United Nations. She spoke about getting men involved in the new HeforShe campaign, a campaign designed to advocate and enforce gender equality.

Watson’s credibility as a spokeswoman was questionable going in but she spoke very clearly and with unwavering confidence.

A citizen of the United States could say that this is not an issue anymore, that we have already achieved gender equality or are moving in the right direction. It is defensible assertion to make until one attempts to apply the concept to other nations.

Watson emphasized the importance of worldwide gender equality, and the fact that it will not come to pass without action.  She is absolutely right, equality is a worldwide issue, and everyone needs to work together to achieve results.

What was striking about her speech was the definition she gave of the word feminism.  If one believes that everyone is equal, they are feminists, she says.  Feminism is the idea of equality for the sexes. It has been redefined to mean man-hating and the reception of that new definition has made the word and, by extension, the ideology it represents, unattractive.

A more pervasive acceptance of Watson’s definition of feminism would do wonders for gender equality, even in the United States. Even if gender equality is less of an issue in this country than in others, there are still cases of inequality at work, in the classroom, in society and in the media.

This is exactly what Emma Watson was talking about in her speech.

If a woman feels that she is repressed for any reason where she lives, then something needs to be changed. However, if a woman is subject to more conservative rules than her male counterparts and she has no problem with it, then it can be argued that nothing should be done.

Whatever the case may be, feminists and human rights advocates are doing what they believe is right for the good of all people. Emma Watson is definitely right about one thing: speaking up and doing something about what you believe in is the only way to make a difference.