Malala Yousafzai on Feminism: If Not Me, Then Who?

What’s the best thing that can happen when two young, inspirational, female activists who are both fighting to elevate the status of women around the world meet? An open and honest conversation about what it means to be a feminist.

Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai come from different walks of life but have set out on a similar path. Both are working to elevate the status of women around the world, both have spoken at the United Nations to champion their cause, and both are proud to call themselves feminists.

Watson and Yousafzai had not met before their Q&A session that opened the Into Film Festival on November 4th, a free and annual celebration of film and education for 5 to 19 year olds. Over the course of the interview the two talked about Yousafzai’s documentary, “He Named Me Malala” inspired by her story and her movement to improve female education. Watson asked the 18 year old Nobel Prize laureate questions from school aged children participating in the UK festival. Save for one question, Watson says, she decided not to ask at the last minute — but Malala answered it anyway.

“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,” Watson wrote on her Facebook page.

Malala told Watson that her HeForShe speech helped trigger a change in thinking what it means to identify as a feminist :

“This word ‘feminism’, it has been a very tricky word. When I heard it the first time I heard some negative responses and some positive ones. I hesitated in saying am I feminist or not? Then after hearing your speech, when you said, if not now, when? If not me, who? I decided… there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.”

“Let’s not make it scary to say you’re a feminist,” Watson concluded in her Facebook post. “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.”

Watch the I Am Malala trailer here and for more information about Watson’s HeForShe campaigna and her movement for gender equality visit her website.

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