“We are no longer going to be harassed, we are no longer going to be mistreated or discriminated against. We are going to create more opportunity for each other.”
Hollywood actor, Reese Witherspoon delivered this powerful message to women and girls yesterday at the UN Women event in New York.
Opening up about her own experiences, Witherspoon explained the ultimate breaking point for Hollywood women, which resulted in the inception of #TimesUp.
“It started out in October with 40 women in a room just talking about this problem and how we were going to deal with it, because enough is enough,” she said.
“There has been a pattern of sexual harassment and abuse in our industry, including myself, when I was 16 years old I was assaulted by a director on a movie,” Witherspoon explained.
In October last year, Witherspoon first spoke out about the assault she experienced, explaining she had not disclosed the violation at the time because she believed her career would be jeopardised.
“I think one of the things I understood was a condition upon employment and the opportunities I had was silence,” she said yesterday.
“And with the revelations so many women have been assaulted, discriminated against and generally had to be quiet for fear of losing opportunity and a job, we decided we were all in it together.”
Black Panther actress Danai Gurira another Hollywood figure fighting for gender equity on the panel, shared a tearful story of her time meeting women in Liberia who had been repeated victims of sexual abuse.
“When I’ve sat in the presence of women and girls that have gone through things that I couldn’t even begin to imagine, all of them said to me no one had ever asked what had happened to them. That really got to me,” Gurira said. “At the time I was an extremely broke playwright who had a fundraising party and a friend said he’d match whatever I made, and I was able to pay my New York rent and go.”
She continued, “But now I’m in a different position, so now I have to go again, and I have to meet those girls face to face. So it’s about that circle closing because those girls have the potential, desire and resilience. If we don’t get up and do something practical in our various positions of power, she will not reach her greatness and her potential.”