Salma Hayek Gives Powerful Speech on Gender Equality

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Salma Hayek isn't just a big name on the big screen. The actress is a big name in the fight for gender equality, too. On Friday Hayek addressed Variety's Power of Women luncheon in Los Angeles, calling those who don't pay men and women equally criminals.

"This is a problem that is in every single industry," Salma Hayek told the press on the red carpet at the luncheon. "If you have the same capacities and you are doing the same job, it is criminal not to pay the same salary."

Honored for her work with the Chime for Change women's empowerment project, Hayek shared some astounding statistics. Jada Pinkett Smith introduced Salma Hayek to a cheering crowd.

"We are a fantastic generation. We are the generation who said, 'Oh no, we're not going away at 30. This is gonna change. I'm not going to work there anymore? OK, I'm going to start my own industry,'" Hayek said.

"We are 66 percent of the work power of the world. However, we only get 10 percent of the income of the world. This is really, really sad and tragic," she added.

Following more than 20 years as a gender equality advocate, Salma Hayek just now believes change is about to take place.

"We have been complaining about the situation of women in this industry for years," she said. "I remember many people in Oscar speeches [mentioned] it, but just this year, with the very eloquent speech of Patricia Arquette, finally they heard it! They actually ask you about it! We are talking about it, we are looking for solutions. We are the generation that is going to experience the difference, the transformation."

"I think the reason is not because they're very nice and they heard us, but because they cannot not hear us because we are such an economical power, women in the country. We represent such a strong part of the audience that they cannot ignore us anymore," she said.

Explaining how women in both the film industry as well as in everyday situations have been forced into roles set by men, Salma Hayek said there is much confusion about gender equality.

"It's confusing because we've been neglected for so long that we really don't know what women want to see," she said. "We don't even recognize our voice anymore because our voices we've had to adjust to a system that was created by men so that they could survive. So that things could get made. It's a really inspiring time, because it's time for us to take this responsibility and try to find out who we really are."

She added that the stereotypical Hollywood roles for women in rom-coms and chick flicks is coming to an end.

"We're not the women [who] just wanna see the movie about how our prince is going to come and rescue us anymore. These romantic comedies are not working anymore, why? We changed! But nobody took the time to change with us in the industry," she said. "So it's a really exciting time to redefine who we are. This is the true heart of equality--not only when we can make as much, but we can speak as loud and we can really have the freedom to be ourselves instead of trying to survive or fit in," she said.

Salma Hayek is a successor in a long line of people who have spoken out against gender inequality. Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Watson, Oprah Winfrey, Matt McGorry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Garner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Geena Davis, and Meryl Streep are huge advocates, too.

Do you believe the end of gender inequality is truly imminent? Kudos to people like Salma Hayek and her predecessors for their tireless work in not just raising awareness but in advocating change.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.