We all jumped to our feet and cheered earlier this year when Emma Watson kicked ass and took names as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. Delivering a speech in staunch support of feminism, she launched the HeForShe campaign, encouraging men across the globe to stand up for the women they love and advocate for gender equality. The speech has currently racked up over 8 million views on YouTube, and it inspired over 100,000 men to sign up to support the campaign.
Emma Watson is the face of HeForShe, but what many of us don’t know is that there is an equally amazing face behind the scenes of HeForShe who is just as worthy of the spotlight, our standing ovation, everyone throwing roses at her feet, the whole star treatment shebang.
Meet Elizabeth Nyamayaro, the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of U.N. Women, one of the heads of the HeForShe campaign, and the woman who recruited Emma Watson to be the face of the movement.
Nyamayaro has a resume that makes us ALL look like hardcore slackers. The Zimbabwe-born political scientist has been instrumental in the global effort to support the African development agenda, spending much of the 2000’s dedicating herself to the under-served population of the continent. Specific initiatives she’s worked on include a $500 million global commitment to reduce maternal mortality, a maternal health initiative with Hillary Clinton, and a cervical cancer prevention initiative. And that’s just, like, the SMALLEST sampling of her bananas-impressive resume.
Nyamayaro recently talked with Fortune about HeForShe and supporting women on a global scale. Here are some of the best soundbites from the convo:
On Being Inspired To Launch HeForShe:
“I joined UN Women about 11 months ago, and during my orientation, it became really clear that if we were going to advance the conversation about young women, we needed something that was going to change how we look at gender equality in a positive way. We need to make it a global issue. If it remains a women’s issue, then progress will remain slow. Men still hold power so you can’t really speak about imbalance against women without finding a way to engage men as meaningful partners.”
On Getting Emma On Board With HeForShe
“There was no convincing. Which was a wonderful thing and that speaks to her passion and commitment. I approached her a few months and we started having a dialogue about her coming on as a Goodwill Ambassador. Emma struck me as someone who was fresh, passionate and intelligent.”
What Nyamayaro Has Been Up To Since HeForShe Blew Up In September
“The campaign took us by surprise. Initially we were asking the question, ‘Do men care about gender equality?’ and we found out that they do care. Then we started to get a lot of emails from men who signed up, who now want to do more. Men in Nigeria wrote us about what they could do to help find the missing girls. A man in Norway emailed us wanting to know what he could do about the woman who was raped in an Uber in India. Now we are working with McKinsey for a strategy about the other areas of the campaign. We have HeForShe as an awareness platform, but now we are moving to make it an advocacy platform to change public policy and the law.”
So now that we know a little bit more about the woman behind the curtain, everyone please get up off of your butts and onto your feet and give it up for the how-can-she-be-real-she-is-just-too-awesome Elizabeth Nyamayaro.