Meryl Streep has warned younger women to keep fighting for equality to avoid losing the gains made by previous generations of feminists.
The 69-year-old actress is an outspoken supporter of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements against sexual harassment and sexism in the entertainment industry and beyond.
However, she worries that some younger activists will get complacent just because there are now some women who reach the top of their professions.
“We have to be very vigilant. Younger generations of women may not be aware of how hard it was just to get to where we are today,” she tells Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “Many young women who have reached positions of power may not think that the fight still needs to continue.”
Calling on women to keep battling for freedoms her generation never had, she adds: “Those of us who are older remember how it wasn’t that long ago that a lot of professions and positions of influence were closed to women. In the 1970s, there were very few women doctors, lawyers, and virtually no CEOs. And even today we still have a long way to go to achieve pay equality not just in Hollywood but in all professions.”
Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, and Sienna Miller are among the younger female stars who have demanded world leaders do more for women, with Emma having launched her own gender equality campaign.
Meryl agrees there’s still a lot of work to be done until true equality is achieved, saying that today’s increased freedoms only seem impressive when compared with the past.
“It’s a fairly recent emancipation,”she muses. “We should be careful not to overestimate the actual freedom of women today. Just because we have more say and we walk around in pants more than we did before, that doesn’t mean that we have left the (repressive and discriminatory aspects of) the 20th century behind.”