Sciences Po’s HeforShe Chapter Will Represent Continental Europe at a Conference in New York

By Aurore Laborie

Sticker sales, conferences, international women’s day, feminism, and gender equality, mark the daily lives of HeforShe’s members at Sciences Po. The movement was created as an initiative by UN Women in 2014 by Elizabeth Nyamayaro. Most have heard of it thanks to UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, also known as our favorite muggle-born witch. HeforShe’s goal is to build a gender equal world and champion for women and girls. The association arrived on campus in September 2016 thanks to Frédéric Mion’s commitment to make Sciences Po a more gender equal institution. Ever since, HeforShe has been officially and legally recognized as a HeforShe campus association and the only one representing continental Europe, and has won the RATP price of 2000 euros for its “Road to Equality” project in partnership with the Reims City Hall.

Today, HeforShe Reims is expanding its borders all the way to New York City, home of the United Nations, where HeforShe Columbia University invited the presidents of all HeforShe campus associations around the world. Contacted through social media and with the help of a former Sciences Po student currently at Columbia, Reims’ HeforShe president Jade Benardie will be attending this grand conference from March 23 to March 25 along with other presidents from McGill University or New York University. The conference’s goal is to dismantle constructs of masculinity, which is one of the fields HeforShe advocates for, and will be led by longtime feminist and sociologist Michael Kimmel, founder of the academic journal Men and Masculinities. Throughout the event, members will participate in workshops that will seek to find new ways to approach gender equality, and will also have the opportunity to spend an evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is holding an exhibition on masculinity. Bernardie hopes to discover new approaches to feminism, meet different people and diverging point of views, and  expand the way she perceives feminism. It is a movement, which means that it is constantly changing. She is particularly keen on focusing on non-Western women and also on deconstructing sexism from a non-Western male standpoint, compared to the more traditional Western men standpoint.

Since the Reims chapter is the only HeforShe campus association that has been officially recognized, Bernardie will not only be representing Sciences Po, but also the rest of continental Europe. She will present what HeforShe Reims has done so far in terms of initiatives, struggles and the challenges to come. She will do this in front of UN speakers, which is a great opportunity for Reims to assert its place in a the fight for a more gender equal world.

If this conference is a success, HeforShe Reims can be expected to be called next year and the following years to come to join HeforShe Columbia in more conferences about gender equality. As of today, you will be able to follow the conference by following HeforShe Reims’ account on social media, which will broadcast the conference live and post its highlights. You will also hear more of HeforShe during Gender Equality and Sexuality Week, a brainstorming session on ideas for dealing with gender inequalities in cooperation with Hong Kong and Georgetown University, a conference on alternative prison sentences concerning sexual assaults, and a gala in April.

HeforShe hopes to continue expanding its influence, on men and women, since, said Bernardie, “feminism is the right and the possibility to choose, whether to wear a veil, have sex or not, and providing a choice to women means to provide a choice to men”.

Clarification: A previous version of this article misstated Bernardie’s comments on feminism from non-Western perspectives. It has since been updated to reflect her views.

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