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Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 22, 2018

Time’s Up ripples across the pond as U.K. demands equal pay, safe workplaces

By Henry Chu, Variety.com | Feb 07, 2018

LOS ANGELES - The old adage about London buses is that you wait forever for one, and then three show up. Something similar is happening now in Britain’s media and entertainment industry, as a number of long-simmering issues regarding gender equality surge to the fore in an extraordinary confluence that has many women feeling hopeful of meaningful change at last.

On issues such as pay parity, anti-harassment and gender diversity, advocates are speaking out and demanding action. They’re increasingly raising their voices in concert instead of individually, eager to capture not just a “women’s moment” but women’s momentum in a post-Harvey Weinstein era. Inspired by Time’s Up in Hollywood, dozens of prominent British women in show business -- including Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson and Daisy Ridley -- are in the process of forming their own version of the movement.

“It’s all connected,” said Kate Kinninmont, head of advocacy group Women in Film and Television. “Everything that could happen is happening -- but everything is good.”

Take Jan. 31: On that day in London, a veteran journalist appeared before a parliamentary committee to blast the BBC for paying her less than her male counterparts. At the same time, four comedy writers and performers announced the launch of their Kickstarter-funded all-female production company. That morning, actors union Equity was reported to be drawing up proposals to consign the casting couch to history. A few hours later, news emerged that many women will wear black to the BAFTA awards Feb. 18, following the example of attendees at the Golden Globes.

That sartorial statement is the first public gambit of Britain’s nascent Time’s Up campaign. “We are working to continue the incredible movement this side of the Atlantic,” said a letter encouraging women in the industry to get involved. “We feel it is important to make a statement to show global solidarity and that the issue is not being forgotten.”

By the end of last month, the British Time’s Up initiative had attracted the support of nearly 50 women, many of them well-known internationally. Most are actresses, including Emma Watson, Carey Mulligan and Gemma Arterton, but the list boasts such luminaries as James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, screenwriter and playwright Abi Morgan (“The Iron Lady”) and director Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”).

Besides wearing black at the BAFTA ceremony, the group is hoping to establish a fund similar to the one started by Time’s Up in Hollywood. At this point, organizers envisage the fund being used not only to defray costs for women caught up in legal proceedings but also to boost other groups dedicated to women’s equality and welfare.

The British industry is putting the finishing touches on guidelines to prevent and confront bullying and harassment. Dozens of organizations have contributed to the effort, which is being spearheaded by BAFTA and the British Film Institute, among others.

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