Women are entitled to respect, dignity and freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, women’s rights attorney and National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee Gloria Allred said Monday.
Allred presented during Iowa State’s Women’s Week, a week of events and lectures designed to empower women and celebrate Women’s History Month.
Allred’s session, “Women's Rights and Women's Wrongs in the Me Too Era,” highlighted how women advocate for their rights within the civil and criminal justice system.
“No one ever gives women their rights,” Allred said. “We always have to fight to win them.”
Allred is a founding partner of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg, a women’s rights private law firm.
Allred presented several civil and criminal cases her firm has handled on behalf of victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which includes victims in high-profile cases such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
Allred used these cases as examples of empowerment and accountability.
She emphasized the importance of using the civil and criminal justice systems to win accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the victims.
“Women are not only speaking out on the internet, they are stepping up in both the civil and criminal justice system. They are themselves pioneers,” she said.
Allred also praised the courage of victims who come forward, pointing out the mental toll of reliving trauma both in the court of public opinion or in a court of law. She noted that while the process can be frightening, it is also a way for victims to empower themselves, something her firm prioritizes.
She then spoke about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the Constitution to guarantee equal legal rights for all citizens regardless of gender. The ERA was first proposed in 1923 and so far has been ratified by 38 states.
We need this amendment, and we need to continue to discuss it and fight for it, Allred said.
She encouraged all attendees to consider themselves a potential candidate for elected office by explaining why we need more elected officials who are passionate about women’s rights.
“There is a war against women,” she said. “And we must fight this war with every weapon that we have.”
Allred ended by emphasizing the importance of all individuals in the fight for women’s rights.
“The movement is really one that is made up of individual women who are fighting to win their rights,” she said.
She also encouraged all attendees to continue to advocate for women’s rights, pointing out how their attendance at the seminar proved their willingness to learn more.
“You too can be a heroic warrior for equality, you too can make a choice to make a difference,” she said.