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The Oscars: Equality wins

A week has passed since the 78th Academy Awards and yet we are STILL reeling from the events that took place. Yes Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of Stephen Hawkin in ‘The Theory of Everything’ and yes, Julianne Moore finally won an Oscar, but that’s not what we’re referring to. This year the 78th Academy Awards surprised, inspired and unified us under a common want and shared belief: equality.  
The prestigious annual event boasts a star-studded red carpet and therefore more media coverage than imaginable. The Oscars is therefore the perfect platform for influential people to voice important issues and bring public attention to pressing matters. The overall feeling of the event was one of empowerment. From Reese Witherspoon reprimanding reporters for their choice of patronising questions, to Patricia Arquette using her Oscars Acceptance speech to advocate for wage equality, the underlying theme of the event was definitely strong women. 
Witherspoon, who was nominated for her incredible performance in ‘Wild’, used her red carpet appearance to promote the ♯AskHerMore movement, a campaign that discourages questions about clothes at red carpet events. Witherspoon is an Oscar winning actress, a successful producer, an active philanthropist, and on top of this a hands-on mother of three. Yet when she walks the red carpet at the Academy Awards, her accomplishments and strengths are undermined by the question: ‘Who are you wearing?’ Witherspoon spoke out in an interview saying: “This is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses. There are 44 nominees this year that are women and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done. It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood, or any industry.” The growing campaign launched by Amy Poehler accepts that fashion is fun, but targets the issue that whilst men in the same position are asked about their work and passions, women are confined to condescending questions regarding their choice in shoes or their ‘tough’ decision to select the perfect lipstick for the occasion.
Later in the evening Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech to highlight the pressing issue of discrimination, calling for wage equality. ‘It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women’, encouraging women to stand together in the face of adversity to stop the ‘gender tax’ that as Arquette later tweeted about, women have been paying for generations. Arquette’s raw, candid and frankly brave outburst gained the respect of a room full of influential women including Meryl Streep and J-Lo. Her words empowered women across the globe and reminded us that change is needed. 
Despite the fact that we’ve come a long way in the past century, there is still a need for change. Approximately 70% of people in national minimum wage jobs are women with females occupying on average 30.9% of the ‘top jobs’ in the UK. As students it is important that we understand the world that we are about to enter into and fight for our rights. The current full time pay gap is 10%, and the average part-time pay gap is 34.5%, this needs to change and thanks to iconic figures leading the way to enlightenment, hopefully it will.
Jen is a French and International Development student in her final year at University of East Anglia and an aspiring magazine editor. She is an active member of campus social life and when she is not writing future online content or updating her fashion and lifestyle blog, you will find her in Topshop or any cafe that serves tea and cake, reading tonnes of the latest fashion magazines.
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