When Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban it was because she was encouraging other girls like her to continue going to school. Since her recovery, she has become an even greater advocate for education for girls all over the world, but especially in areas of the world where women are forbidden from going to school.
When accepting her Nobel Peace Prize last year she said:
When my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed, too. I had two options: one was to remain silent and wait to be killed and the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one; I decided to speak up.
But at no point did the young woman consider herself a feminist saying she initially thought feminism was a “tricky word,” The Guardian reports. Yousafzai met Watson at the premiere of her documentary “He Named Me Malala.
Watson has been a UN global goodwill ambassador for women launching a campaign called “He for She” that encourages men to speak up for women’s rights. In a powerful speech to the UN last year, Watson said
My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume that I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influences were the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists that are changing the world today. We need more of those.
Yousafzai said her father, Ziauddin, has been so supportive of her as a father in her campaign that had been an “example to all men” calling himself a feminist. She said
It has been a 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 I decided there’s no way and 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.
She went on to say that men must “step forward” to promote equality of genders.
In a video uploaded to Facebook, Watson said she found the conversation and admission about the word “feminism” to be “moving.” Saying that she had planned to ask Yousafzai if she considered herself a feminist and researched whether Yousafzai had ever used the word in a speech before.
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. Maybe feminist isn’t the easiest word to use … but she did it anyway.
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.
Yousafzai isn’t alone, many young women (and men) support education for women, equal pay, paid family leave, but for some reason resist calling themselves a feminist.
Feature image via video capture.