For many years, celebrities have used their fame to raise political issues. Whether it was Georges Clooney speaking about Darfour, or Leonardo Di Caprio calling for a greater protection of environment, celebrities have taken public stances and tended to influence public opinion. More recently, a new trend of famous women putting a spothlight on women issues and women’s empowerment can be observed. Here you find a selection of best speeches by female celebrities speaking about (and for) women.
Angelina Jolie adressing the issue of sexual violence
Angelina Jolie is the celebrity with the strongest personal brand of a humanitarian activist. The former wild actress shares today her time between humanitarian engagement and her family of six. Jolie’s engagement toward refugees started in 2001 when she filmed Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia. Since then she tirelessly traveled around the world as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. In 2012 she was appointed a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
In 2015 during the African Union Summit in Johanesbourg, South Africa, Angelina gave a powerful speech about addressing the issue of gender violence .
She called violence against women a “global epidemic” and urged the international community to address the issue of gender violence and human rights violence that touches mainly girls and women. Her solution: team efforts between women and men.
“We need policies for long-term security that are designed by women, focused on women, executed by women. Not at the expense of men, or instead of men, but alongside and with men.”
Emma Watson about feminism
Emma Watson, star of the series of Harry Potter movies since years has been engaged in promotion of girls’ and women’s rights. In 2014 she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women and since then she is the face of #HeforShe campaign, aiming at engaging boys and men to take actions to increase gender equality.
In 2014 Emma Watson gave a moving speech about gender inequality, general misunderstanding of the word “feminism” and the necessity to include men as actors for change in a greater gender equality and to fight against stereotypes that affect negatively both sexes.
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“And, the more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
Lupita Nyong’o about black beauty
Lupita Nyong’o became an international star after performing in the historical drama “12 years a Slave“. In 2014, the freshly gratuated from Yale and virtually unknown actress hit the jackpot and was nominated for numerous movie awards, including the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress, that ultimately she won.
The same year, she was awarded with the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Nyong’o started her speech by reading a letter from a fan who thought about buying skin lightening products until Nyong’o appeared on the stage and “saved her”.
“My heart bled a little when I read those words,” said Nyong’o. “I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of ‘The Color Purple’ were to me.”
“And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us… what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”
Victoria Beckham making difference to the women of the world
Victoria Beckham and her girlband Spice Girls dominated the 1990s and introduced the “Girl Power” to pop music. In the 2000s, when the band fell apart, Victoria reconverted to fashion and became a well renowned designer. In 2014 she was appointed the UN ambassador for UNAIDS campaign and at the press conference announcing her collaboration with the United Nations she delivered a passionate speech about making difference to the women of the world.
Beckham said that she had responsibilities as a woman and a mother and she had to use public interest she attracted to put a spotlight on important issues and give voice to other women whose voices remain unheard.
“I recently visited South Africa and was so touched by the women I met. I felt inspired and I came home and knew I had to do something. I’m going to speak on behalf of the incredible women and the incredible charities who are working so desperately hard in these countries. I’m going to lend my voice to them because for some reason people listen to me. I need to use what I have to make a difference.”
Reese Witherspoon on female ambition
Reese Witherspoon became famous after playing the lead caracter in the comedy “Legally blonde“, telling the story of Elle Wood, a perky young woman who proved to everybody that pink can also be a color of feminism.
Although the movie was screened for the first time 15 years ago, in 2015 Witherspoon gave a speech worthy of her movie character. When Witherspoon was awarded Glamour’s Woman of the Year title, in her acceptance speech she attracted attention to the lack of female leadership and, as its consequence, strong gender inequalities in all fields. She called women to be more ambiticious in order to become key actors of the change.
“I believe ambition is not a dirty word. It’s just believing in yourself and in your abilities. Imagine this: what would happen if we were all brave enough to believed in our ability, if we were more ambitious ? I think the world would change”