I’m absolutely delighted to share that I’m an Equality and Diversity Champion for the university! Today’s topic is the United Nation’s HeforShe campaign and how Leicester is involved with it! If you’re not familiar with HeforShe, here’s the low-down.
The campaign was launched in September 2014, and the aim, as is implied in the name, is to engage boys and men to be proactive in fighting against gender inequality alongside girls and women. The quantitative aim is to have 1 billion boys and men involved in the campaign. There are 6 equality issues that HeforShe focusses on: education, health, identity, work, violence, and politics. Supporters of the campaign are asked to make small, but impactful changes within their communities by speaking up about inequality or calling someone out on their use of gender-biased language (i.e. ‘act like a girl’ or ‘be a man’).
Bonus: as a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson (yes, Hermione) is well-known for being an important voice and face of UN’s gender equality campaigns. In fact, she gave a speech at the launch of the HeforShe campaign.
More recently, HeforShe is running a brand-new initiative called IMPACT 10x10x10, and this is where University of Leicester plays a role. Each ’10’ represents a different sector or industry – each of the three sectors has 10 leaders who lead the campaign within their industry or institution, and these leaders are called Champions. Specifically, there are 10 political leaders, 10 CEOs of international companies, and 10 university presidents, including our very own Professor Paul Boyle, making the University of Leicester one of the 10 IMPACT Champions. As an IMPACT Champion, we’ve made three commitments.
We’ve pledged to work towards:
- closing the gap between men and women in key academic and career areas, in both directions
- creating a cultural transformation around gender
- making public the conversation around gender, provide transparency, and actively monitor progress on these issues
As a university, Professor Boyle calls for not only practical changes, but also cultural changes, in the sense that he wants people to be aware of unconscious biases in the education sector. As such, we’ve made commitments to implement changes that could well pave the way for universities around the UK (the University of Oxford is the only other IMPACT Champion university in the UK).
There’s a lot more that I haven’t covered, but this is a general overview of how the University of Leicester plays an important role on the world stage for gender equality. I’m excited to keep up to date with the progress of this campaign and see how it makes an impact within the community!