Ahead of tonight's BAFTA Film Awards, many of the UK's leading female stars have come together in a dynamic show of solidarity with the Time's Up movement.
Now, The Observer reports that many actresses will attend the BAFTAs not with a partner or family member, but alongside a prominent female activist. Andrea Riseborough will attend with Phyll Opuku-Gyimah, co-founder of UK Black Pride. Gemma Arterton will be joined by Eileen Pullen and Gwen Davis, two women who campaigned to end the gender gay pap at Ford's Dagenham plant in the '60s.
Meanwhile, 190 leading female members of the UK and Ireland entertainment industry including have signed an open letter titled "Sisters, this is our moment to say Time's Up." Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jodie Whittaker, Saoirse Ronan and Sophie Okonedo are among the stars to have signed it.
Published in The Observer, the letter acknowledges that the women's rights movement is now at a "critical juncture," stating: "The gender pay gap for women in their 20s is now five times greater than it was six years ago. Research in the UK has found that more than half of all women said they have experienced sexual harassment at work."
It goes on to align the UK and Ireland's female talent with the wider, Hollywood-initiated Time's Up movement. "As we approach the Baftas – our industry’s time for celebration and acknowledgment, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international," the letter states. "Perhaps Time’s Up seems a million miles away to you – started by a group of women with privilege. The truth is, we are all workers, and whether we’re in the limelight or in the shadows, our voices matter. With our collective power, we can galvanize others."
The letter adds: "This movement is intersectional, with conversations across race, class, community, ability and work environment, to talk about the imbalance of power."
It is accompanied by a second open letter signed by an array of female activists and campaigners, which states: "Today we come together with sisters in the entertainment industry to call Time’s UP on sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse, harassment and victimisation."
The actresses and activists have also set up a new Justice and Equality Fund to campaign for an end to "the culture of harassment, abuse and impunity" that has seen more than half of women in the UK experience sexual harassment at work. Emma Watson has donated £1 million to the fund. Keira Knightley, Sophie Okonedo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emma Thompson, and Claire Foy have all given money, too.
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