On its second anniversary, UN Women’s movement HeForShe has announced its next big focus: equality on university campuses.
The organization, which counts actress and activist Emma Watson as one of its key spokespeople, released its IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity report Tuesday. The report details 10 international universities’ commitments to gender parity on their campuses—including data on how they measure up now. The goal is for these 10 schools to achieve gender equality on their campuses by 2020. HeForShe released a similar report earlier in 2016 on corporate parity.
The participating schools are: Georgetown University, University of Hong Kong, University of Leicester, Nagoya University, University of Oxford, University of Sao Paulo, Sciences Po, Stony Brook University, University of Waterloo and the University of the Witwatersrand.
HeForShe head Elizabeth Nyamayaro told Motto that when determining the priorities of each university, the focus was to look at something “game changing.” “We wanted this commitment to point to parity,” she said. She highlighted key issues facing universities today, including the disparity of subjects that men and women pursue and lack of representation amongst campus leadership.
Each school has taken on its own goals to meet the stated goal of gender equality. For example, Stony Brook University aims to increase matriculation rates of women, and University of Hong Kong has committed to tripling the proportion of female deans. In addition, the universities have pledged to combat gender-based violence on their campuses through policy changes, trainings and other initiatives.
This announcement comes during a year of highly-publicized campus sexual assault cases in the United States. The sentencing of convicted felon and former Stanford student Brock Turner sparked national debate about how sexual assault is treated by the law and by society. Allegations against students and faculty at elite boarding schools for assault and misconduct have also made national headlines.
However, some of the actual plans seem to fall short of the lofty stated goal. The University of Hong Kong committed to 26% of its deans being female—definitely an increase from its current 8%, but still a far cry from true 50/50 parity. University of Leicester is committed to a 30% female faculty, which again falls short of 50/50.
HeForShe continues to emphasize the importance of involving men in the equality process. “It isn’t just about, ‘Let’s make things equal for women.’ We have to make things equal for guys,” Nyamayaro told Motto. Indeed, all 10 university heads of the participating schools are men. This attitude has garnered criticism since HeForShe’s launch in 2014, with some saying that the emphasis on male participation casts them as the saviors of equality.
When asked how students at non-participating schools can get involved with the movement, Nyamayaro pointed to the 250 HeForShe-affiliated student organizations on campuses around the world, and lauded the “energy and passion” of student grassroots movements.
“I think change is happening and it’s very very exciting,” she told Motto.