In her speech at Variety‘s Power of Women luncheon on Friday, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand called for women to keep pushing forward and making national change, notably in politics.
After celebrating the work of honoree Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement, she urged people to remember that “this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry or any one person. We must not lose sight that this conversation is ultimately about whether we value women, and for too many institutions, their actions speak louder than words.”
Gillibrand asked women to “keep using your voices. Use your platforms. Use your name. Use your time. Use your energy to do the hard work that is ahead of us. Let us use our collective power to fight together for women everywhere, up and down the economic ladder, who don’t have bosses in the public eye,” calling for unity across all industries.
The senator, who has been vocal in the fight again sexual harassment and assault, has proposed legislation that would overhaul how sexual harassment claims on Capitol Hill are handled, and during her speech touched on the gender imbalance in Congress.
“Imagine the day when we have 51% of women in congress. We only have 22 in the U.S. Senate, only 18% in the House of Representatives,” Gillibrand said in her speech. “Do you think this U.S. Senate would still be doing nothing to change the sexual harassment system where members of Congress get to play by their own rules, get the taxpayer to pay their settlements, do you think we would finally change that? A system that’s designed to protect predators over and over again?”
She concluded, “Time’s up U.S. Senate, it’s time for Congress to clean up it’s own act and take this problem seriously.”
Along with Burke, actress Emily Blunt, author Margaret Atwood, musician Alicia Keys and multi-hyphenate Tina Fey were celebrated as this year’s Power of Women New York honorees.