On the 24th of October 2017 Studentafton had Elizabeth Nyamayaro as its guest. Elizabeth Nyamayaro is the head of #HeForShe and Senior Advisor to Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director at UN Women. After a speech from Nyamayaro, Catarina Rolfsdotter-Jansson joined her on stage for a dialogue about #HeForShe, Emma Watson’s work with it, toxic masculinity and parental leave, amongst many other subjects.
Elizabeth Nyamayaro starts with a story from her own childhood about playing with butterflies in the fields in Zimbabwe, and then how the drought came and killed the crops. Nyamayaro and her family were starving and that was when she came in contact with what she describes as “the girl in the blue uniform” who was handing out food. The girl explained her reason for being there, doing the work she was doing “as Africans we must uplift each other”, something which came to impact Nyamayaro’s view of the world. Later, Nyamayaro was sent to live in the city with an aunt. There she went to school, and experienced for the first time in her life inequality, racial, gender and social inequality. But then, while visiting her family back home in the village she feels as if she has much more than her family, and feels guilty. However, she remembers the word of the girl in the blue uniform and decides she wants to “uplift her village”. Her story continuous, and she eventually joins the United Nations, and becomes the girl in the blue uniform.
It is within her work for the United Nations she becomes involved with the #HeForShe campaign. She has been involved from the beginning and is now head of the campaign. It was launched in 2014 as a part of UN Women, and is a solidarity movement for gender equality. The movement quickly grew, and men from all over the world joined. She explains how within five days men from all countries in the world had joined, and how the top down initiative 10x10x10 was launched three months later. She concludes by stressing the importance of all genders working together for creating a real and lasting social change. She encourages the listeners to “dare to invent the future” so that they one day can look back and be able to say “there was a moment, and I was part of it, there was a movement and I created it, there was a dream and I saw it come true”.
Catarina Rolfsdotter-Jansson joins Elizabeth Nyamayaro on stage. The subject ranges from the #HeForShe movement and involving the men in it, to Emma Watson’s work with it, #metoo, toxic masculinity, violence against women, involving women and girls in the work against climate change, to parental leave. During the conversation Rolfsdotter-Jansson asks about the driving force in Nyamayaro’s career, and she explains how it is about giving back. Later Nyamayaro also describes how her goal is to return to Zimbabwe, “as an African I have to be part of the solution”, and when she mentions political leadership as what she wants to do when she goes back, Rolfsdotter-Jansson suggest president. Nyamayaro laughingly replies “why not?” and a round of applause is heard.
Then the audience is invited into the conversation, as always at the end of a Studentafton, with the questions from the audience part of the evening.
The evening is also available as a podcast below.