UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Actress Anne Hathaway took on a new role on Wednesday - directing two all-male panels to highlight how men can ensure women receive equal pay and end violence against women.
Hathaway said she was unapologetic about leading discussions with men only at the HeForShe Impact Summit.
HeForShe was launched by UN Women at the United Nations four years ago with the help of “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson in a bid to get men involved in the drive for gender equality.
“Today the men on stage with me are here because they are throwing a huge rock through the glass ceiling,” Hathaway, 35, who was appointed a goodwill ambassador for UN Women two years ago, told a packed hall in New York.
Latest UN Women figures show HeForShe has so far encouraged 1.7 million men to sign up as advocates for gender equality.
UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka listed some of the progress since 2014, including Iceland pledging to end the gender pay gap by 2020 and Malawi outlawing child marriage to help girls stay in school.
Hathaway quizzed her panel members on what they were doing against a backdrop of data showing women globally are paid 23 percent less than men and one in three women faces physical or sexual violence during their life.
Bruce Cleaver, chief executive of Anglo American Plc’s diamond unit De Beers Groups, outlined how his company had introduced breast feeding rooms in its offices and some mines and introduced unconscious bias training for staff.
“It is really important that the culture is there, and people see that leaders believe in it,” he said at the event held in the wings of the U.N.’s annual world leaders’ summit.
Yogurt maker Danone’s CEO Emmanual Faber said his company would introduce 18 weeks gender-neutral paid parental leave for its 100,000 staff by 2020.
Frederic Mion, president of Science Po, the Paris Institute of Political Studies, described how it was encouraging male staff to take paternity leave that had been increased to six from three weeks.
“We have to encourage men to take their role at home more seriously,” Mion said.
Hathaway said these examples showed equality was possible.
“I want to thank you for giving us the evidence that we have always known - equality is the only way forward,” said the U.S. actress who won an Academy Award in 2013 for her role in “Les Miserables”.
Actor Winston Duke, known for his role in superhero movie “Black Panther”, issued a global call to men and boys to push for gender equality, challenging those who make sexist or disparaging remarks about women.
“There can’t be gender justice if men sit on the sidelines, or turn a blind eye ... or have no skin in the game,” he said.
“It is time men brought their bodies, hearts and minds to the conversation ... I call on all men to join this movement.”
Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org