Patricia Arquette Takes Her Gender Equality Speech To The Next Level

Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA
You didn't think Patricia Arquette's call to end the pay gap would end on Oscar night, did you? Oh, no. The Oscar-winning actress and activist took the momentum from her acceptance speech all the way to the United Nations. More specifically, she delivered another rousing speech at a U.N. event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were also on hand for the event in New York on Tuesday, called Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality, but Arquette held her own.

"We need action to see change. Who is responsible for this change? You are. I am," Arquette said, according to a press release from the event. “We are voters. We make 87% of the purchasing decisions. We have the power of our purse to make sure the companies we buy from treat their employees fairly."

The Hollywood Reporter was on hand to catch another interesting quote from the actress, who faced criticism for the comments she made after the Oscars, which some thought called for a fight for gender equality at the expense of other civil rights battles. This time, Arquette took the time to point out how her own early life of poverty has informed her desire to bring all women onto an equal playing field.

"If I were to tell you as a child that there were times when I lived below the poverty line, literally not having shoes to wear that fit me, that would also be true," she said. "If I told you that I was a single mother at 20 and lived with my baby in a converted garage, and that I would worry about my baby's nutrition while nursing because I could only afford to eat macaroni and cheese mixed with water for a week so that I could afford diapers, that would also be true. 

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"But, truer still is that my past hardships are irrelevant to why I'm here today," Arquette went on. "I'm not a lone-standing activist, I'm not an academic, but there's something I am that qualifies me to speak out, and it is not the fact that I'm an actor, or a woman. It's simply the fact that I am a human. I am an American, I see what is happening to women in America. That is reason enough." 
In case you thought she was still just talking about straight, white women, she emphasized that economic inequality is most oppressive for the LGBT community and women of color.  

"This is 2015, not 1915!" Arquette declared. Head over to Beijing20.unwomen.org to read about what else happened at the summit, and how governments can work towards equality by 2030. 
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