More than 300 female actors, directors, screenwriters and other entertainment industry players launched a new campaign Monday to battle sexual harassment in workplaces across the U.S. and to fight for gender equality.
The campaign, organized by a group calling itself Time's Up, includes a $13-million (US) fund to provide legal and communications support to victims of workplace sexual harassment, particularly in more vulnerable jobs such as in the service sector, agriculture and manufacturing.
Among the donors to the fund, according to a statement from Time's Up, are Hollywood actresses Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon, as well as producers Shonda Rhimes and J.J. Abrams, talent agencies Creative Artists and William Morris Endeavor, and filmmaker Steven Spielberg's foundation.
"The magnitude of the past few months highlights the fact that sexual harassment against women in the workplace is endemic and touches every industry," Tina Tchen, a U.S. lawyer who will co-lead the Time's Up legal fund, said in a statement. "This is the first of many concrete actions we will take."
An open letter published by the movement acknowledges that the high profile of the U.S. media and entertainment industry has given many of its talents a prominent platform to bring forward revelations of sexual assault and harassment against dozens of men in positions of power. But "farmworker women and countless individuals employed in other industries have not been afforded" these platforms, the group says — which is in part why it decided to raise money for its legal fund.
"We particularly want to lift up the voices, power and strength of women working in low-wage industries where the lack of financial stability makes them vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence and exploitation," the open letter says.
The letter was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion.
Time's Up is also campaigning for more women in positions of power and for pay equity, and is supporting the push for women to wear black, in solidarity with those who have been sexually harassed, at Sunday's Golden Globes awards gala.
The movement came together in the wake of a series of high-profile sexual misconduct allegations that have emerged across the U.S. and around the world — largely against men in the media and entertainment industries — following the scandal around disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
The revelations have underscored what observers say is the pervasive nature of gender-based harassment, violence and discrimination in workplaces.