Meet the woman behind Emma Watson’s viral feminism campaign

Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the brains behind the UN’s HeForShe campaign, recruited Watson — and also snagged some of corporate America’s top execs — to promote gender equality.

Before actress Emma Watson turned a discussion on gender equality at the United Nations into a viral YouTube video, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UN Women, was hard at work.

Nyamayaro is the lesser-known head of the HeForShe campaign, a movement aimed at getting men, not just women, to champion gender equality. In September, Watson, a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and the spokeswoman for HeForShe, got the campaign an impressive amount of attention — over 6 million hits on YouTube — with an impassioned speech announcing her involvement.

Three months later, now that the excitement surrounding Watson’s speech has died down, I checked in with

Nyamayaro to get a sense for what’s next for the campaign and how she plans to continue to build off its initial momentum.

What inspired you to launch HeForShe?
I joined UN Women about 11 months ago, and during my orientation, it became really clear that if we were going to advance the conversation about young women, we needed something that was going to change how we look at gender equality in a positive way. 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.

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