EDITORIAL: See HeForShe

Harry Potter series actor believes men must be part of the solution to issues of inequality faced by women

If most of the problems women face in today’s society are caused by men, it makes sense for men to be part of the solutions.

It’s difficult to argue that men, purposely or not, haven’t created much of the inequality that continues to hold women back. It is men who have historically, and to a large degree still, called the shots. Whether it was denying women the vote or a place in university, it was always men making the decisions.

Sadly, it is also men who perpetrate the more visible, horrible wrongs: more than 80 per cent of domestic violence incidents in B.C. involve a male as the aggressor, the hitter, the criminal.

International Women’s Day, and the federal candidates’ forum here on the same day (Sunday), got us thinking more about this subject.

In September of last year, the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, gave a poignant speech to the UN in New York. She was announcing the launch of HeForShe.

“We want to try to mobilize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change,” said Watson, who you may remember as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies.

“I was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women six months ago and the more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” said Watson. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”

Watson spoke about how men are imprisoned by stereotypes, which feeds the beast that is inequality for women.

“If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive,” she said. “If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.”

It starts in the home and continues in the schools. We believe anti-bullying programs in the schools have had some effect. We hear positive, supportive language from young children we would never have heard without Pink Shirt Days. Parents and teachers are on the front lines. Boys and men have to be included, be part of the solution. As Watson said:

“How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”

— Editorial by John Harding

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