The fight for equal rights has been an ongoing challenge for women that, in recent years, has finally been thrust into the limelight with the addition of many noteworthy supporters. Where “feminism” used to be seen as a sort of “dirty word,” it is now part of common language. Many celebrities turned activists, such as Patricia Arquette, Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, and Sophia Bush, voice their opinions on making opportunities for men and women fair and equal. According to Bush, fairness is the basic definition of feminism:
“I am a woman. I would like to be judged on the quality of my work, I would like to be compensated fairly for my work. I would like to have just as much access to healthcare as any man. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.” – Sophia Bush
Lately, the closing of the wage gap has received a lot of attention, with the launch of the Equal Pay Pledge at the United State of Women Summit in mid-June. The pledge’s statement begins by explaining that even though the Equal Pay Act of 1963 is still in effect, working women today make only 79 percent of working men’s salaries. An even greater wage gap occurs for African American and Latina women. As a result, the pledge asks private-sector companies to take steps to close the wage gap and promote fairness in the workplace. As of today, twenty-eight companies, including L’Oréal USA, Rebecca Minkoff, Stella McCartney, Amazon and Pinterest, have signed the pledge to take action towards reducing the gap. The White House encourages other businesses to support the pledge as well. Rebecca Minkoff commended the White House for its efforts to break down gender gap barriers and provide women with equal pay. The company also released the following statement:
“As an organization conceived and led by a female entrepreneur, we understand the importance of supporting women early in their careers. While progress has been made in the fashion industry, we pledge to work to empower future generations of female entrepreneurs by providing them with equal opportunities in our organization. We will continue to support our female employees by ensuring that they earn 100% of men’s wages within our company.” – Rebecca Minkoff
Before this formal pledge, many others spoke out about the unfairness between men and women’s wages, including Emma Watson through the #HeforShe movement. The actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador helped launch the campaign for global gender equality in 2014 and has continued striving towards that goal. Most recently, the campaign sponsored a #HeforShe Arts Week that coincided with International Women’s Day on March 8th in New York City. Watson also sat down with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda for a conversation about #HeforShe and gender equality that concluded with the ambassador beat-boxing while the freestyler rapped a few verses about being equal and “50-50.” In an interview with Esquire, Watson discussed fighting for equal pay:
“We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you’re ‘difficult’ or a ‘diva’. But there’s a willingness now to be like, ‘Fine. Call me a ‘diva’, call me a ‘feminazi’, call me ‘difficult’, call me a ‘First World feminist’, call me whatever you want, it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.” – Emma Watson
Jennifer Lawrence spoke similarly to Watson about their image and the wage gap in October 2015 after the Sony hack revealed Lawrence and Amy Adams made significantly less for their movie American Hustle than their male costars. In her essay, the Academy Award winner wrote about how she didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled” by asking for more money until she realized her male costars most likely didn’t worry about their images when fighting for a wage they felt they deserved. “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that.”
These women are not the only ones who have spoken out against the wage gap and other equal rights issues and they will not be the last. As noted from the statistics, we still have awhile to go before men and women are 50-50, but UN Women hopes to achieve this goal by 2030.