Meet Elizabeth Nyamayaro, The Woman Behind Emma Watson’s Viral ‘He For She’ Speech


2014 was certainly great year for the fight for gender equality, especially in the publicity department. One of the highlights was British actress Emma Watson’s ‘He For She’ campaign speech she gave in September in front of the United Nations. It brought attention to her UN Women ambassadorship in a big way, and also gave major cred to why men are a crucial part of the gender equality conversation and subsequent action.

But Emma was just the vehicle for delivering this powerful message, albeit a vehicle with a huge passion for this issue. The woman behind getting her involved was recently interviewed by Fortune magazine to talk about how she got the ‘Harry Potter’ star on board.

Elizabeth Nyamayaro is her name, and she is also the creator of the He For She campaign itself. Elizabeth is also the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

She only joined the UN Women crew approx 12 months ago and told Fortune that her idea was to entirely change the way we all look at gender equality.

“We need to make it a global issue. If it remains a women’s issue, then progress will remain slow. Men still hold power so you can’t really speak about imbalance against women without finding a way to engage men as meaningful partners,” she said.

In terms of “convincing” Emma to come on board as a celebrity ambassador, Elizabeth said it was an easy deal to seal, because Emma was just as passionate about the cause. But she certainly wasn’t expecting the massive viral response to Emma’s speech, which currently has over 6 million views on Youtube and counting!

“In three days we saw the whole world light up as more than 100,000 men signed up for the HeForShe Commitment for gender equality. I would have never thought that would happen,” she said, showing that engaging men was the right move to make.


“The campaign took us by surprise. Initially we were asking the question, ‘Do men care about gender equality?’ and we found out that they do care. Then we started to get a lot of emails from men who signed up, who now want to do more. Men in Nigeria wrote us about what they could do to help find the missing girls. A man in Norway emailed us wanting to know what he could do about the woman who was raped in an Uber in India.”

“We have HeForShe as an awareness platform, but now we are moving to make it an advocacy platform to change public policy and the law.”

Going forward, Elizabeth says the next major step, now that they have the world’s male population signing up for the cause, is to engage major corporations, citing the latest UN Gender Equality report for 2014 which outlines how they can play a a big role in this fight.

“We identified that corporations have a lot more work to do, so we are targeting companies to participate as well. We want concrete actions and concrete commitments within these companies to support gender equality.”

They have set up an advisory council within the private sector which so far includes CEOs from brands and businesses such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Chanel, and Goldman Sachs.

Elizabeth’s own passion and skill for creating a social movement is something worth taking note of, because the truth is we all have the power to start one. We may not necessarily have access to big corporations or huge celebs like Emma Watson, but the main thing is the idea.

In the video below, she outlines 3 key steps to starting a mass movement, which she shared at the 2014 Global PR Summit in October, which focused on game-changers who are transforming the world of communication.

1. Have a good strategy.

2. Know what your role is. Understanding that it is people who create a movement.

3. Surround yourself with smarter people than yourself.

Brilliant advice from the mind of one of the most incredible social movements we have seen over the past year. Hear more from Elizabeth in the video below:

One Comment

  1. I admire the work you are doing and am doing a research on who men can be engaged to empower women socio economicallly in Zimbabwe .

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