Potterheads know this to be true: a wizarding world without Hermione is not a world at all. Like, it ceases to exist. This year, as witches, wizards and muggles everywhere head to school, the Harry Potter Alliance will launch a new gender equity in education campaign: A World Without Hermione. Already a li'l emotional? Good. That's the point. Let's continue.
On Sept. 1, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an activist group for and by Potterheads, and She's The First, a millennial-driven education equality organization, will launch their latest campaign highlighting the cost of gender inequity in education. Titled "A World #WithoutHermione," the campaign urges fans to consider the ways in which gender discrimination manifests itself across the globe. Child marriage, poverty, cultural beliefs and even sexist dress codes and being socialized out of STEM programs all serve the same purpose: keeping girls out of the classroom. And what happens when girls lose access to education? Well, in the world of Harry Potter, "Spoiler: Voldemort wins, everyone dies."
And it's not just Hermione. Think of all the vastly different heroines J.K. Rowling has created over the years: Luna, Ginny, Cho, Tonks? McGonagall?! And that's just one canon. When half the world's population are denied equal access to education, Earth, like, our reality, begins to look a lot more bleak.
For those eager to participate in the #WithoutHermione campaign, HPA will be providing Hogwarts waitlist letters and urging fans to actually send them (yes, through Muggle mail) to friends and family.
"To the finder of this letter," they read. "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Waitlist. Unfortunately, we are not able to allow you to come to Hogwarts at this time.
This is no reflection on your abilities and we hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone. Around the world, thousands of girls are not permitted to attend school, or are unable to finish their schooling due to discrimination, tradition, poverty, or violence."
The letter goes on to urge its receiver to post it online, using the hashtag #WithoutHermione, and to head to HPA and She's The First's campaign page for further tips in spreading the word and taking concrete actions towards ending gender inequity in the classroom.
One of the more immediate ways? Join HPA's Potterwatch, a new "virtual street team" named after Lee Jordan's Wizarding Wireless Network program that bloomed during the Second Wizarding War. Like Jordan's show, the members of Potterwatch will meet in a secret, password-protected online location to discuss tactics for combatting misinformation regarding gender discrimination and education. Apply for ~The Watch~ here.
And then there's the opportunity to donate to HPA and She's The First's forthcoming IndieGoGo campaign, which will help support a new program that provides leadership and mentor opportunities for women across the world and supplies scholarships to girls in developing countries. The campaign will launch Sept. 19, giving you plenty of time to save those pennies (and yes, of course, donating comes with special, Potter-themed perks).
Finally, use the #WithoutHermione campaign as an opportunity to take your love of gender equality and magic offline. Try organizing an in-person potluck with friends (at which you can chat about concrete steps of action, duh), or spend a weekend volunteering at an educational charity. Host a bake sale. Host a book club. Share your beloved Sorcerer's Stone with a member of the younger generation and be their introduction to The Boy Who Lived and all the women who kept him alive.