Over 300 women who work in television, film and theater launched a far-reaching campaign Monday that includes the creation of a legal defense fund to help less-privileged women come forward about sexual misconduct they’ve experienced.
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, backed by $13 million in donations from over 200 donors, is spearheaded by high-profile attorneys Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen, who previously worked as former first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.
Tchen pointed to the #MeToo movement as a major catalyst for the initiative.
“The magnitude of the past few months highlights the fact that sexual harassment against women in the workplace is endemic and touches every industry,” Tchen said in a statement Monday. “We are a community of women and men who can no longer stand idly by.”
Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety, dignity or morale. Shonda Rhimes
The fund is one of several ongoing commitments supported by members of the Time’s Up movement, which includes Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, America Ferrera and Shonda Rhimes. The initiative also plans to push for legislation that would penalize companies that fail to take action against persistent harassment, according to The New York Times.
“Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety, dignity or morale,” Rhimes, executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” said in a statement.
“It’s well past time to change the culture of the environment where most of us spend the majority of our day ― the work place,” she continued.
Time’s Up was formed with the knowledge that many Hollywood figures who spoke out against powerful men have some privilege given their financial statuses and social media platforms. Members hope the initiative will help protect all women ― whatever their situation ― against sexual misconduct.
Last month, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a national organization representing roughly 700,000 female farmworkers, wrote a letter in solidarity with the legion of Hollywood women coming forward about sexual harassment and assault.
“We wish that we could say we’re shocked to learn that this is such a pervasive problem in your industry,” the letter stated. “Sadly, we’re not surprised because it’s a reality we know far too well.”
On Monday, Time’s Up members responded with their own letter of solidarity in support of the farmworkers and others victimized by sexual misconduct.
“Now, unlike ever before, our access to the media and to the important decision makers has the potential of leading to real accountability and consequences,” the letter stated.
“We want all survivors of sexual harassment, everywhere, to be heard, to be believed, and to know that accountability is possible,” it continued.
Several Hollywood stars tweeted about the launch on Monday: