This past weekend thousands of women gathered in Los Angeles for the United State of Women Summit on May 5-6, 2018. Some of the speakers included Michelle Obama, Jane Fonda, Kamala Harris, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Tarana Burke. Fletcher performed her song I Believe You, which was inspired by the Me Too movement. All of these powerful and amazing women came together to talk about what we need to do in order to have a voice that is heard and seen as equal to the voices of men. In order for women to have a strong voice, we need to raise young girls who are not afraid to speak their minds. Michelle Obama said the best way to do this is to listen to our children, ask them questions, and let them have opinions. Also, it is important to treat all kids equally, whether they are a boy, a girl, or transgender. We must place the same expectations on all children, regardless of their gender, and involve them in the same activities so that they do not start to believe that there are limitations to what they can be, or do, or say. Michelle also pointed out that we need to stop women on women hate and judgement. We hold each other to higher standards than we hold men, and it is hurting us. Instead, we should support one another, help each other out, and stand up for ourselves as a whole. When one woman wins, we all win.
Once we win and get a seat at the table, Michelle Obama said, most of us are so grateful to even be at the table that we are afraid to shake things up. Yes, it was a long road and took a lot of hard work to get here – but we have to take risks if we are really going to gain respect and create change.
So what can we do, as artists? We need to create content and material with characters that represent the people we have and the people we want in our world. Netflix is purposely creating strong female characters in their films. The Dreamworks series on Netflix Spirit Riding Free was made to empower young women and girls. The show had a special screening with Girls Inc. on International Women’s Day, inviting elementary school girls to the television studio. The screening was followed by a panel discussing the creative process. This kind of involvement and education about different career paths is important so that young girls can see that they can do or be whatever they want.
Richard Dickson of Mattel said that at age six, girls stop dreaming and thinking that they can be anything they want or do anything that they want… and they start thinking boys are smarter than them. It is Mattel’s mission to change that. They worked with olympic athlete Ibthihaj Muhammad to create the first Barbie doll with a hijab. Ibthihaj said her parents always taught her that she can be whatever she wants, but she has to work hard.
As artists, we also need to make sure to rest. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, said it’s great to be charged up and ready for change, but we must not forget to be gentle with ourselves. Self-care is important and it is part of the work. We must take care of ourselves, so that when we are creating we are performing to our fullest potential.
Watch the entire summit here:
United State of Women Summit Morning Session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8v4JBhH_Hg
United State of Women Summit Afternoon Session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKD2cIuRmsE