Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai says United Nations goodwill ambassador and Harry Potter star Emma Watson inspired her to call herself a “feminist”.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate met Watson at the premiere of He Named Me Malala, a documentary following the events leading up to and following the Taliban’s attack on the then 14-year-old Yousafzai.
Last year Watson launched the HeForShe campaign in a speech that pushed for men to stand up for gender equality.
In a question and answer session to open the Into Film Festival, Watson asked Yousafzai about the documentary, the power of education and the goals of The Malala Fund for girls’ education.
Yousafzai also addressed the question of whether she identified as a feminist, noting it was Watson’s HeForShe speech that inspired her to embrace the term, reports abc.net.au.
“This word, feminism, it has been a very tricky word and when I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and some positive ones,” Malala Yousafzai said.
“I hesitated in saying am I a feminist or not and then after hearing your speech, when you said ‘if not now, when? If not me, who?’ I decided that there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist, and I am a feminist.”
Watson posted a video of the meeting on Facebook.
“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,” Watson wrote.
“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.
“I’ve spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalised 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.”