Girl On The Train actor Edgar Ramirez blows United Nations away with speech on how gender inequality hurts men too

Move aside, Emma Watson and Justin Trudeau - the new equality champion has arrived

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 21 September 2016 18:25 BST
He For She at Moma - Edgar's Speech

"What does it mean to be human?"

It was a big question from Edgar Ramirez, an actor, journalist and activist, and it begged to be answered.

At the UN Women summit, an event to celebrate the 1.3 million men and boys who have signed up to the HeForShe movement, it was imperative to get across the damage of gender equality on society and the economy.

But it wasn’t actor Emma Watson, comedian Trevor Noah, or even Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau that stole the show.

Unicef ambassador Ramirez, who is about to hit the big time as Dr Kamal Abdic in much anticipated thriller The Girl On The Train - a story about domestic violence - told the gathered celebrities and heads of state that gender inequality is a massive issue for boys and men, too.

He said that social norms tell boys not to cry, to suppress their fear and turn it into anger.

They are told to dominate, to be number one and to disrespect women.

"Men are taught that if we are not the ultimate provider we are a complete failure," he said.

"We have to be number one in everything we do. There is nothing more delusional or paralysing than what I have just described."

It sets up boys for failure, he said, and spurs high rates of depression and suicide. Suicide in the UK is the number one killer of men aged between 20 and 34.

If men turn outward to express their negative emotions, it can result in anger and violence, he added. Yet mental health among men is a “complete taboo”, he said.

Ramirez’s words came as UN Women revealed their University Gender Parity report, committing 10 heads of states, 10 large corporations and 10 universities to create gender equality in the near future.

"As long as you are burdened, I am too," Ramirez told the crowd.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, under secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, said: "Thank you, Edgar, for your profound speech. It was amazing."

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