Emma Watson Is Why Malala Yousafzai Calls Herself A "Feminist"

Photo: Richard Young /REX Shutterstock.
Who has influenced Malala Yousafzai? Emma Watson, for one. The 18-year-old activist said that she decided to call herself a "feminist" after hearing the Harry Potter actress' now-famous speech about the term.

Watson interviewed Yousafzai as part of the U.K.'s Into Film Festival, where the documentary He Named Me Malala screened for students. Yousafzai was speaking about her father's commitment to women's rights when she began telling Watson how her perception of "feminism" evolved. She cited the speech Watson made launching her HeForShe campaign at United Nations Headquarters in September of last year.

"Interestingly, this word feminism has been a very tricky word," Yousafzai said. "When I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and some positive ones, and I hesitated in saying, 'Am I a feminist or not?' Then after hearing your speech, when you said, 'If not now, when? If not me, who?' I decided there's nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I am a feminist, and we all should be feminists because feminism is another word for equality."

"I'm so moved to hear that," Watson said, clutching her heart.

Watson, a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, elaborated on how she felt about Yousafzai's admission on Facebook (where she also shared a video of the full interview). "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. Maybe feminist isn't the easiest word to use... But she did it ANYWAY."

Another topic that arose in their discussion? U.S. politics. But you won't find Yousafzai endorsing a particular candidate. Watson asked Yousafzai whether she was "excited" about Hillary Clinton's run for president. Though Yousafzai said that she doesn't know where she falls on the U.S.'s political spectrum, she did add, "I really think America needs a woman president."
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