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Variety's Inclusion Summit Calls for Increase in Diversity, Gender Balance in Media & Entert

"It’s nice when we can all come together in a place where there are stories that are inspiring and change people’s trajectories of how businesses and media are handled.”

- Chelsea Handler

In the wake of hundreds of women speaking out against harassment and sexual violence, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the arrival of this week’s Variety Inclusion Summit. The event focused on diversity and gender equality in media and entertainment, featuring keynote panelists Chelsea Handler and Anita Hill, who made headlines in 1991 when she accused then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Celebrity participants also included musical artist and drummer extraordinaire Sheila E., actress Connie Nielsen, and producer Effie Brown who were panelists for a discussion on "Ending Sexual Harassment in Hollywood."

Photo: Andreas Branch|Variety|Rex |Shutterstock

Handler, whose keynote address was a discussion with Hill about the current state of sexual harassment aimed at women, noted that “the daily grind of having to stick up for gender parity can become draining, so it’s nice when we can all come together in a place where there are stories that are inspiring and change people’s trajectories of how businesses and media are handled.”

On the issue of sexual harassment in the current climate, even after her landmark testimony to the US Senate over 20 years ago, Hill noted that she is troubled by the challenges women face even today when coming forward to report abuse, but notes that inroads have been made since she spoke out in 1991. “It still takes about 30 women to come forward before one woman is believed,” she said. “We are making change. It’s not instant and there won’t be one tipping point, there will be many. Our word is as valuable as the word of our abusers.”

Academy award winner Geena Davis, actress and founder of the Institute on Gender in Media, an organization committed through research to eradication of female stereotypes and gender imbalance in media, also participated in the event, noting “as a mother in the 21st century, how can we possibly be showing kids the world bereft of a female presence and expect those girls to grow up valuing girls equally?”

Photo: website, Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media

Both Davis and Hill encouraged women to continue speaking out and turning their words into action. “If you have any kind of status that allows you to make change, use it,” said Hill. Davis continues to use her work as a springboard for activism, saying “I have a lot of resources, so I’m able to use my television show and my social media as a platform to engage and bring discussion to people. But if you don’t have those resources, then you have to dive in and get involved on a local level. Go to a city council meeting and find out who your congressperson is. All of these things are actionable.”

Source: Variety

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