In 2014 UN Women launched HeForShe – their solidarity movement for gender equality. Inviting men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners, HeForShe implements a shared vision of gender equality to benefit all of humanity. As the Head of the HeForShe Campaign, Elizabeth Nyamayaro states, ‘Our equality is wrapped up in the equality of others, and no one is equal until we are all equal.’
Since the launch of the HeForShe initiative on 20 September 2014 by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, more than two hundred HeForShe Student Associations around the world had been ignited by their determined passion.
In commemoration of the HeForShe Initiative’s first year anniversary, the GetFree Tour launched on 29 September across the UK and France – and will reach universities in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North America from 2016 onwards. The HeForShe GetFree Tour will not only increase awareness for this initiative to students but also provide a platform for youth to explore their own understanding of gender issues and expose them to like-minded individuals.
Recently, a HeForShe event took place at the University of Leicester.
The HeForShe GetFree Tour will also visit the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University of Leicester, the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Nottingham, University College of London, and the Paris Institute of Political Science (Institut d’études politiques de Paris) during its UK and France engagements. The University of Leicester and the Paris Institute of Political Science are also part of HeForShe’s IMPACT 10x10x10 programme, which engages ten leaders across three sectors to drive systematic change.
29 September saw the launch of this tour and University of Leicester was bursting with activity. Starting from the arrival of the iconic HeForShe bus at 11am, a speech from Professor Paul Boyle, University of Leicester’s President and Vice Chancellor, kick-started the event. From 1pm to 2:30pm, the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre on campus saw a mass of people ranging from local professors, to students and general public alike.
An introduction video was then shown, notably of male speakers in various departments and Student Union societies with female voice-overs commenting on the topic of gender equality in their specific fields. The Vice Chancellor discussed the importance of the HeForShe Initiative and the University’s own commitments, ranging from tackling the ‘lad culture’ in universities, to consent workshops and the goal of reaching equality in the imbalance of male/female ratio in particular subjects.
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Guest speakers included Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Senior Advisor to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Head of UN Women and the HeForShe Campaign, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Dr Lisa Smith from the university’s Criminology department, Dr Kaitlynn Mendes from the Media department who discussed feminism in the media and Provost Prof Mark Peel and the Student Union President, Rachel Holland, with a conversation about Leicester HeForShe and future initiatives at the University of Leicester.
An inspirational movement, the HeForShe Initiative and the GetFree Tour brings a global conversation on gender equality to young people around the world and will surely leave its mark. And as Nyamayaro discussed during the launch, ‘This is what HeForShe is all about. The freedom to be who we are.’
Photos by the author unless otherwise indicated.
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