As many people will know, J.K. Rowling determined the birthdays of her main characters. Hermione's birthday is September 19th 1979, making her just turned 35.
It shouldn't be underestimated how beneficial an effect both the character of Hermione Granger and the actress who played her, Emma Watson, have had and are continuing to have on young people's concepts of what is possible for women and girls.
For 17 years and counting, children have read about a brave, intelligent person who fought evil and didn't have the slightest romantic interest in the hero. The fact she was female is largely irrelevant. Whether Emma Watson's prettiness detracted from the character's originality or further challenged the traditional Hollywood-friendly female stereotype I can't say, but I will say that since becoming the focus of attention for the media and for children she too has become a fantastic role model.
The first children to read Harry Potter are now in their twenties and waves of new readers and fans appear every year, my own daughters among them. Each of those readers is, in the context of our society, tacitly asked a vital question: If Hermione can, then why not me? Why not any girl?
Linked below is Watson's speech to the United Nations at the launch of the He For She campaign to address the slide into alienation that has occurred within feminism and the ostracisation of men from what is an issue that affects everyone. Her intelligence and humility are palpable. The issue is one close to my heart and central, when men are included, to many of society's ills, as Watson herself points out far better than I in her speech.