As the global movement against sexual harassment in the workplace continues to pick up steam, a group of local organizations are hosting a discussion on Monday.
The "#MeToo in Hawai'i" event is put on by a broad coalition of groups representing women from many industries, from hospitality to university students to the business sector. We asked some politicals vying for your vote what they would do to solve this issue.
"#MeToo" started in October 2017 after public allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag spread quickly on social media to raise awareness for the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. A-list celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman have posted about their experiences.
All five contenders for the lieutenant governor's seat in Hawaii - all Democrats - met in a public forum put on by the LGBT and Labor Caucauses Saturday to say how they would tackle this issue. Their thoughts on this?
State Senator Josh Green says, "It's not something I would do. It's something I already did. I proposed this session to triple the penalties - immediately set that example- because we have an epidemic of abuse."
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho posits, "I'd form a committee, look at who should be at the table, and ask how to address the issue collectively so we can come to work and be safe."
State Sen. Jill Tokuda adds, "We have to set the example. We have to let people know they can come to us at any point. There has to be a Zero Tolerance Policy."
Kim Coco Iwamoto shares, "The first thing I'd do is convene at meeting at the Lt. Governor's office with community advocates working on the front lines of domestic violence and workplace harassment, and sex trafficking; all the issues that subjugate women through abuse of power."
State Senator Will Espero concludes, "We need to make sure we educate our children. Then we go to the Governor's office and say let's talk to the biggest industries in our state."
The goal of the #MeToo panel is to reassure vicims they will be believed and that there are resources available to them. The "Me Too" event is Monday, February 12, at 5:30 pm at YWCA Laniakea in Fuller Hall, at 1040 Richards St. in downtown Honolulu.
The host organizations include AF3IRM Hawai'i, a transnational feminist activist organization led by women of color; American Association of University Women Honolulu (AAUW), the nation's leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls, advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research since 1881; UNITE HERE! Local 5, which represents approximately 11,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE; UH-Manoa Native Hawaiian Student Services, which primarily serves Native Hawaiian students at the UH-Manoa through a comprehensive, culturally respectful and academically competent program of student support and advising services; UH Office of Institutional Equity, which creates and supports a foundation that encourages respectful and nonviolent relationships for students, faculty and staff at UH and addresses all forms of gender-based violence and sexual misconduct; and the YWCA of O'ahu, which is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.