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Top Hollywood women launch anti-harassment initiative

More than 300 top women in Hollywood - from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett - unveiled an initiative on Monday to tackle pervasive sexual harassment in workplaces, calling special attention to their "sisters" in less-than-glamorous blue-collar jobs.

The initiative - dubbed Time's Up - capped a year in which the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal set off a deluge of allegations that brought down powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media, prompting companies, government agencies and even the United States federal court system to re-examine harassment policies.

In an open letter printed in The New York Times, the initiative lends the star power of its A-list members to the cause of women in less prominent fields, urging support and respect for farm workers, cleaners, waitstaff and others whose humble positions leave them vulnerable and voiceless.

DEFENCE FUND

Among the specific steps it announced, Time's Up has established a legal defence fund that, in just 12 days, has raised US$13.4 million (S$17.8 million) towards a US$15 million goal aimed at providing legal aid for women and men who were sexually harassed, assaulted or abused in the workplace.

It has vowed to push for legislation to strengthen laws on workplace harassment and discrimination.

The group insisted that more women must be brought into positions of power and leadership, while every woman should have equal benefits, opportunities, pay and representation.

As for Hollywood, it wants "swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone".

And it called on women to wear black at this Sunday's Golden Globes as a statement against gender and racial inequality and to raise awareness about the group's efforts.- AFP

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