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Aspen Ideas Festival: #MeToo, Time's Up, what now?

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Fatima Goss Graves talks about the #MeToo movement.
Fatima Goss Graves talks about the #MeToo movement at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Goss Graves is the president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center.
Riccardo Savi | The Aspen Institute

Fatima Goss Graves is the president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center and the founder of the organization "Time's Up." She spoke at an Aspen Ideas Festival session titled "#MeToo, Time's Up — What Now? Ensuring Opportunity for Women and Girls" on June 27, 2019. 

It was held before billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was charged this week with sex trafficking dozens of underage girls. But the featured speaker in this Aspen Ideas Festival session says each of these terrible stories just adds to the long list of women's stories of surviving harassment and assault which are now bringing this subject to the center of the national conversation in an unprecedented way. 

At the festival, Graves said she was pleased to see men and women in the audience. 

She said we have brought conversations about sexual assault, harassment, and the power gap between men and women "out of the shadows." And while the women's movement is continuing to show gains, Graves added you have to "expect backlash any time you are making dramatic progress." 

She is very concerned about recent attempts in several states to dramatically change abortion laws. Even though abortion rights are supported by a large majority of Americans, "you have this health care procedure that is so shamed and stigmatized, people don't even know how to defend it." 

In a wide-ranging discussion, she spoke about equal pay, Title IX, the role of black and brown women in the movement, the role for men in the women's rights movement, what to teach our children and the balance of power in the workplace. She pointed out that women working as janitors, independent contractors, freelancers and those in the gig economy are "largely unprotected under federal law." She has particular concern for domestic workers, farm workers and retail workers. 

Graves had this advice for companies and organizations: "The most important thing that leaders can and should be doing right now is signalling to their organization their commitment for change. And it has to only come from the leader."