By Ellen McGirt
Updated: October 11, 2017 2:12 PM ET

“How many women in this room have been sexually harassed?”

This was the opening question asked by Vanity Fair special correspondent Sarah Ellison during a powerful session at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit in Washington, D.C. this morning, shortly after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson took the stage.

Nearly every hand in the audience went up.

Sexual assault in the workplace continues to be top of mind, as stories of harassment and worse continue to emerge about the once powerful Harvey Weinstein.

It was Carlson’s own sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, at the time Fox chairman, that precipitated his exit from the network. Carlson’s second act? An advocate for women.

Carlson had some words of warning for anyone who is preparing to tell a similar story. “I can tell you this: You find out who your friends are in a big way. I heard from people I hadn’t heard from in 30 years, and I didn’t hear from some of my neighbors. So, it can be a very alone experience.”

Until it’s not. “First of all, if you do come forward, you’ll be labeled a ‘troublemaker’ or a ‘bitch,’” she said. “More importantly, you won’t be believed. And, some people have even suggested that you do it for money or fame.”

But, she says of the women who have been coming forward with Weinstein horror stories, “If I had anything to do with those women feeling empowered to have a voice, my life has had so much purpose,” Carlson said. “And, it’s something that I never ever expected that I would be the face of.”

If you are not sure you have enough energy for this fight, either as a victim or an ally, then I recommend you invest the three minutes it will take to watch this video released to commemorate International Day of the Girl.

Created by the UN’s Global Goals project, it features extraordinary and truly fierce girls from around the world dancing and lip-syncing to “Freedom” a song from Beyonce’s “Lemonade” magnum opus. While the video is joyous, the barriers that girls continue to face are not. Here’s just one alarming stat: Every five minutes a girl dies as a result of violence.

Enjoy. And then stand up.



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