During UN week, streets were blocked off, airplanes were stalled and sidewalks were crowded with carelessly parked Escalade limousines reading “Diplomat”, adding to the expected chaos of New York City.
UN Women and Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson launched a campaign called HeForShe, in an attempt to create solidarity between men and women in order to achieve gender equality.
On Sunday following the launch, the Social Good Summit brought together leaders, innovators, activists and celebrities from around the world to discuss the most pressing issues of our time, including women’s rights. The goal of the summit this year, was to empower people to use technology and social media to create the change needed to meet the next set of UN development goals, and create a better world by 2030.
The event was put on by the UN, Mashable and 92Y.
“I am proud that today you will see as many women on this stage as men,” said Henry Timms, the executive director of 92Y, as he gave his opening words.
The event was livestreamed and translated into every language of the UN.
During the “Inspiring Real-World Action in Women’s Movements” panel, speakers discussed the responsibility of men in promoting the empowerment of women.
“Gender violence is the most tolerated human rights violation on earth,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. “There isn’t a country that has yet achieved gender equality. One-in-three women suffer from gender-based violence.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008.
“Boys and men have to be included in the conversation too,” said Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The goal of the campaign is to be one billion men strong by September 2015, in time for the next UN General Assembly.
“I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t let the other half of us do what we ought to do in life,” said Gates.
According to Watson, the purpose behind the HeForShe campaign is that people stop seeing gender as two sets of opposing ideals and start viewing it as a spectrum.
“We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are,” said Watson during her speech at the UN headquarters. “We can all be freer, and this is what HeForShe is about.”
The event concluded Monday and featured other notable speakers such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Idris Elba, Connie Britton, Geena Rocero, Natasha Bedingfield, etc.
“At this rate, by 2030 we could offer everyone a shot at a good, dignified life,” said Jamie Drummond, the co-founder of ONE.