Emma Watson explains that female literacy is a huge part of "Beauty and the Beast"

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Both Emma Watson and the character she plays in Beauty and the Beast are our book-loving heroines and the comparison is not lost on the actress. In an interview with Mashable, Watson explained the importance of books in Beauty and the Beast and further proved how taking on the role of Belle is going to make this beloved Disney character a feminist icon for the ages.

Watson’s efforts for gender equality — like her #HeForShe campaign with the UN or her speaking out about how her clothing choices don’t dictate whether or not she is a feminist — have already made her a feminist icon in our book. But she’s also showing how her fictional character Belle was empowered because of her ability to read.

As Watson said to Mashable:

“[Books are] so powerful and they have the ability to change your life and your outlook, and this story really speaks to that, the sacred nature of books and their ability to transport you and empower you.”
Walt Disney Pictures

She then used her role in the movie to help educate the public about female literacy and education by saying:

“We still live in a world where there are probably over 80 million girls who won’t get to go to school just because of their gender.”

The number of girls not in schools vary with ONE stating it’s up to 130 million and UNICEF reporting that it was over 60 million girls in 2013.

Regardless of this disparity, lack of access to education for females is a worldwide problem and Watson wants to bring attention to it through Beauty and the Beast.

Like Belle, Watson loves books and the actress/activist has made a point of spreading the importance of literacy to people of all genders. After all, Watson started a feminist book club, which encourages others to read books by women, and she spent International Women’s Day 2017 by leaving books around the memorials of truly groundbreaking women.

Watson and the Disney princess Belle were already so worthy of our admiration before this, but Watson keeps elevating what a role model can be while she promotes Beauty and the Beast. As she reminds us never to take the privilege of education for granted, she inspires us to help improve access to education for all girls — everywhere.

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