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By Marisa Rivera

Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant.

Although the #MeToo movement started before hashtags more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke out of Philadelphia to support survivors of sexual violence, it has been intensified in recent months. It only took one tweet by Actress Alyssa Milano asking victims of sexual harassment or assaulted to write #MeToo. After her tweet, social media was flooded with stories of harassment and assault, as #MeToo became a way for users to tell their experience with sexual violence and stand in solidarity with other survivors. According to the Associate Press, on Facebook alone, it was shared in more than 12 million posts in the first 24 hours.

The #MeToo movement has magnified the voices of so many women. More and more women have found the courage to speak out against their perpetrators, no longer feeling alone.Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world” by the United Nations. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually being someone known to her, (UN Women, 2017). In a recent article by the Center for American Progress a study of 41,250 sexual harassment cases were filled between 2005-2015 by industry.

In my opinion, it all starts with the abuse of POWER from one individual to another. It is manifested, historically, by the unequal power relationships between men and women are and it is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position.

I would like to offer some basic solutions to end such discriminatory practices:

Shatter the culture of silence and shame. If you see something, say something. We must not be by-standers of this violence and harassment.

Violence against women is not a women’s issue – It is a men’s issue. Engage men, policy makers, law makers, employers, and the whole family, and discuss the dynamics and consequences of violence. Educate boys and men to view women as valuable and equal partners in life, at work and at home. Champion equality and fairness in the workplace. Including advancement opportunities, and promote equal pay for equal work. Economics and position plays an important part in combatting this epidemic. Women must prepare and demand leadership positions as they move up in the political, social and economic ladder of society.

Stop blaming or shaming the victim. Stop the threats and reprisals against those who reveal abuses. Stop doubting women when they come forward with their allegations. We must listen to survivors and ensure that their allegations are taken seriously.

Prosecution for those who perpetrate these brutal crimes is essential. We must demand action to punish perpetrators.

Have more women run for office. The current political outrage has been the most powerful catalyst for women from both parties to run for office. Run for office or support women who are running for office!

You must decide if you are part of the problem or part of the solution. Equality for women is not only a matter of justice, it is a political, economic, and strategic imperative. Let’s become advocates and strong supporters of the women’s movements such as #MeToo movement and stop violence and sexual harassment against women for good. #MeToo.

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