Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon join multi-million dollar anti-sexual harassment initiative

Women of Hollywood are working to put an end to sexual harrassment and pay inequality with new $16 million program.

Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Shonda Rhimes are among a number of famous faces putting their money where their mouth is today for gender equality in the workplace.

Through a new initiative called Time's Up, members of the entertainment industry are calling for an end to sexual harrassment at work and closing the wage gap. 

More than 300 women, including actresses, writers, directors, producers and entertainment industry executives, have joined the cause, contributing more than US $13 million (AU $16.6m) in initial funding.

According to the The New York Times, the first orders of business include:

  • A legal defence fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it;
  • Legislation to penalise companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims;
  • A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway, and
  • A request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.

Time's Up is also accepting donations via their website, 100 per cent of which will go towards their legal defence fund.

The initiative was revealed via a full page advertisement and letter published in The New York Times and LA Opinion on January 1. 

 

"Unfortunately, too many centres of power - from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suites and management to academia - lack gender parity and women do not have equal decision-making authority," the letter states.

"This systemic gender inequality and imbalace of power fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harrassment against women. Therefore, we call for a significant increase of women in positions of leadership and power across industries."

Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Emma Stone, Ashley Judd, Oprah Winfrey, Rashida Jones, Kerry Washington, Steven Spielberg, Eva Longoria and Taylor Swift are reportedly among the other famous names who pledged their support.

The project responds to ongoing revelations of sexual harrassment in the workplace, which have snowballed since revelations of the rampant, sordid behaviour of former Miramax executive, Harvey Weinstein, came to light. Since then, social media movements like #MeToo have exposed over a million stories of sexual harrassment in the workplace across countless industries worldwide.

 

 

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