Making HeForShe’s Goal Tangible

Many have tweeted or publicly stated that they support the HeForShe campaign. But in addition to all of this support, have initiatives been in place as a result of HeForShe? I did some digging to see if I could prove critics wrong – that HeForShe isn’t just a case of slacktivism, which I described in detail in a previous post.

In my “What if?” post, I mentioned the possibility of a boy or man being in the place of Emma Watson. Little did I know, that UN Women has in fact implemented a male UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. His name is Farhan Akhtar, and he is a critically acclaimed Bollywood star (Tulshyan). Akhtar was appointed South Asia Ambassador to help advance empowerment of women and girls by engaging men and boys (Tulshyan). Like how I mentioned in a recent post where I discussed the power of celebrity, Akhtar is largely successful and relevant in the Bollywood community, quite possibly making him the best leader in the for South Asia and the movement toward gender equality. He is a director, actor, screenwriter, producers, singer, songwriter and TV Star (Tulshyan). What probably landed him the title of UN Women Goodwill Ambassador was probably the launch of his campaign called MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination). MARD is designed “to create awareness and to instill gender equality and respect towards women” (“The Initiative” MARD). I think Akhtar’s appointment makes UN Women and the HeForShe campaign more credible trustworthy. They are not only calling on men and boys to fight for gender equality, they are putting that mission into practice by having Akhtar be a Goodwill Ambassador.

Farhan Akhtar

(Photo: MARD Facebook)

In addition to UN Women pushing their own initiative forward the Kenyan government has as well. Recently, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, who had launched a campaign called 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, said that the new policy ensures that aims to prevent gender-based violence and properly respond to it when it does happen (Kibet). Waiguru also added that “the implementation of the document ensured that every Kenyan was assured of a safe and secure environment where human rights were respected and protected” (Kibet). This initiative, which occurred after the launch of HeForShe, not only moves toward gender equality, but also emphasizes how these issues are human rights issues, just like what Watson said in her speech. 

Another tangible effort that occurred recently was in Great Britain when Michael Oliver, a soccer referee for Premier League and also head of Northumberland Football Association’s referee academy, quit because of the failure to not fire John Cummings, the National Football Associations’s (NFA) president, for discriminating against a female referee (BBC). The Football Association did ban John Cummings for four months for telling Lucy May – who is also Oliver’s finance – “a woman’s place is in the kitchen and not on a football field” (BBC). The NFA ruled that the ban as well as a £250 fine was sufficient punishment (BBC). Oliver’s protest in quitting and standing up for May, as well as women everywhere who are affected by those hateful comments, epitomizes what Watson wanted out of HeForShe.

These are just some of the very recent instances where the main goals of HeForShe are coming to life. There is still a very long way to go, but the strides mentioned – which are on a very large scale – are just the beginning of what can happen as a result of HeForShe.

—————

Kibet, Lonah. “State Launches Policy on Gender Violence.” Standard Digital. 27 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“Ref Quits Over ‘Kitchen Insult’ Row.” BBC. 21 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“The Initiative.” MARD. 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Tulshyan, Ruchika. “Moved By Emma Watson’s HeForShe Speech? Then You’ll Love UN Women’s Newest Ambassador.” Forbes. 17 November 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

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