Nothing to see here. Just two women casually having a conversation about equality, together unpacking the weight that comes with publicly identifying oneself as a feminist.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was interviewed by actress Emma Watson this week at the premiere of a documentary (“He Named Me Malala”) produced in tribute to the young human rights advocate.
An advocate for girls' education from a young age, in 2009, Yousafzai began blogging anonymously with the BBC. Her dispatches from her hometown of Mingora, Pakistan chronicled daily life as a girl under Taliban rule.
Her stance on the rights girls have to an education irked the Taliban, which orchestrated a plot to kill Yousafzai.
In 2012, masked gunmen boarded a bus full of schoolchildren and shot the then-14 year old in the head and neck. Two other girls were wounded and survived.
“I hesitated in saying am I a feminist or not,” the now-18-year-old admitted about coming to terms with identifying herself with the “very tricky word.” Watson sighed loudly.
“And then after hearing your speech when you said, ‘If not now, when, if not me, who,’ I decided that there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist,” said Yousafzai.
“So I’m a feminist… Because feminism is another word for equality.”
Yousafzai and her family moved to the U.K. after the attack and haven’t yet returned to Pakistan.
Watch the interview below:
Into Film Festival opening Q&A
Today I met Malala. She was giving, utterly graceful, compelling and intelligent. That might sound obvious but I was struck by this even more in person. There are lots of NGOs out there in the world doing great things... But if there were one I would put my money on to succeed and make change on this planet, it would be hers. (The Malala Fund). Malala isn't messing around or mincing her words (one of the many reasons I love her). She has the strength of her convictions coupled with the kind of determination I rarely encounter... And it doesn't seem to have been diminished by the success she has already had. And lastly…She has a sense of peace around her. I leave this for last because it is perhaps the most important. Maybe as a result of what she has been through? I personally think it is just who she is…Perhaps the most moving moment of today for me was when Malala addressed the issue of feminism. To give you some background, I had initially planned to ask Malala whether or not she was a feminist but then researched to see whether she had used this word to describe herself. Having seen that she hadn't, I decided to take the question out before the day of our interview. To my utter shock Malala put the question back into one of her own answers and identified herself. Maybe feminist isn't the easiest word to use... But she did it ANYWAY. You can probably see in the interview how I felt about this. She also gave me time at the end of the Q&A to speak about some of my own work, which she most certainly didn't need to do, I was there to interview her. I think this gesture is so emblematic of what Malala and I went on to discuss. I've spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalized movement it is too. We are all moving towards the same goal. Let's not make it scary to say you're a feminist. I want to make it a welcoming and inclusive movement. Let's join our hands and move together so we can make real change. Malala and I are pretty serious about it but we need you. With love, Emma x#HeNamedMeMalala #notjustamovieamovement Malala Fund Into FilmPosted by Emma Watson on Wednesday, November 4, 2015
The response nearly stupefied Watson, who leaned back into her chair to absorb the gravity of the words coming from the Pakistani teenager.
“If we want equality, if we want equal rights for women,” Yousafzai continued, “then men have to step forward.” She said it’s people’s responsibility to “participate actively” to bring about change because that’s the only way it will come.
After the interview wrapped, Watson took to her Facebook page to share a 23-minute clip of the interview with her more than 31 million followers.
She explained she decided to nix an idea to bring up feminism after doing cursory research and noticing it wasn’t a topic Yousafzai addressed in her previous interviews.
Watson said to her “utter shock,” Yousafzai “put the question back into one of her own answers,” then identified herself as a feminist.
“Maybe feminist isn't the easiest word to use... But she did it ANYWAY,” she wrote. The “Harry Potter” actress mused that she was most taken by the “sense of peace” that wrapped Yousafzai.
“I leave this for last because it is perhaps the most important,” said Watson. “Maybe as a result of what she has been through? I personally think it is just who she is.”
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