U.N. Women announced that Emma Watson, famous for playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, is the organization’s newest Goodwill Ambassador.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, Watson will join the international body in empowering young women. She’ll also be an advocate for HeForShe, a campaign that encourages men to speak up for women’s rights.
“Being asked to serve as U.N. Women’s Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling,” Watson said in the release. “The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role.”
Although her specific duties have not been revealed to the public yet, Watson joins a growing number of female celebrities pegged to humanitarian causes, particularly in conjunction with the United Nations. Since 2000, actress-turned-activist Mia Farrow has worked with UNICEF, raising awareness of the challenges children experience due to systemic violence. Shakira, who also partners with UNICEF, brings attention to childhood education and HIV/AIDS among youth. And perhaps the most visible celebrity humanitarian, Angelina Jolie, a Special Envoy of the U.N. Higher Commissioner for Refugees, works on the ground with people displaced by violent conflict and has recently been a forceful advocate for prosecuting rape as a war crime. Watson is also following in the footsteps of Whoopi Goldberg, Serena Williams, and Katy Perry.
U.N. Women is one of the youngest branches of the United Nations. Formed in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the division is meant to advance women’s rights as they pertain to the organization’s areas of interest, pulling together several U.N. programs serving women’s needs under one roof. Specifically, it promotes the “elimination of discrimination against women and girls, empowerment of women, and achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.” For the first three years of its existence, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet served as its leader during her time between presidencies, setting the bar high for the group.
Given her roles as dynamic, bold female characters, it is likely that tapping Watson as their next Goodwill Ambassador was not much of a leap for U.N. Women. As Sam in the Perks of Being a Wallflower, she played a free-wheeling, risk-taking, off-beat teenager who embraced her weirdness, and was happy with her “uncool” status in high school. In the Bling Ring, she’s the popular-girl-turned-thief who knows how to take charge — and break into celebrity homes. And as Russell Crowe’s onscreen daughter in Noah, she courageously stands up for her children when her father is determined to kill them. And in her most famous role as Hermione, she was a brilliant, witty, tenacious wizard known for her remarkable skill-set and quick-thinking. So, who better to embolden young women with their unique brand of magic?