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Women in Hollywood push for gender equality before midterm elections

More than 1,500 entertainment professionals including female film industry leaders gathered in Los Angeles on Friday to call for gender equity in Hollywood — as part of the «50/50 by 2020» initiative — and female empowerment ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 6.

#MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, Time’s Up co-founder Tina Tchen and actresses Mira Sorvino, Zoe Saldana, Rosanna Arquette and Felicity Jones were among panel speakers who discussed how to live with trauma caused by sexual assault, achieving equal pay, and paying tribute to #MeToo survivors at the Power Women’s Summit.

(Tarana Bruke)

Anita Hill, who alleged during Clarence Thomas’s 1991 Supreme Court nomination that he had sexually harassed her, gave a keynote speech encouraging women to take action despite facing a difficult political climate.

«There’s a profound sense of betrayal and despair that the government no longer cares about the basic right to be heard and have our pain recognized,» said Hill, an attorney and professor. «These are the experiences that our representatives should be paying attention to and doing something about.»

In October, the U.S. Senate confirmed judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court along party lines — 51 Republican senators to 49 Democratic — after testimony by Christine Blasey Ford that he had sexually assaulted her decades prior as a high school student.

«Even if the government isn’t prepared to protect women from sexual violence, we are. We will do it ourselves,» said Hill. «That means that you all must stay engaged…no matter what goes on in Washington, no matter what goes on on November 6.»

Burke, a grassroots activist from New York who coined the phrase «me too» in 2006, echoed the necessity for women and survivors to call for eliminating sexual assault and harassment when they vote in the midterm elections.

«It’s not about being bold and brave. It’s about resilience,» she said. «When we talk about turning tragedy into triumph, that could happen at the polls.»

According to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, 96 percent of film directors between 2007 and 2017 were men.

In 2017, Japan ranked 114th out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, and the U.S. State Department reported that «sexual harassment in the workplace remained widespread (in Japan).»

Japan has faced its own #MeToo reckonings this year, including a scandal that saw Japan’s top Finance Ministry bureaucrat resign after allegations of sexually harassing female journalists. In May 2017, journalist Shiori Ito made a rare public allegation that prominent former television reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi raped her in 2015.

A 2017 survey by Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, found that 41 percent of respondents had heard about instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.

[Getty/Kyodo]

All — Kyodo News+

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