Actress, Cate Blanchett and French filmmaker, Agnes Varda led 82 women on the red carpet in a protest of gender inequality at the premiere of Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun” by locking arms and turning their faces away from the Palais des Festival and toward the crowd.

This protest, organized by a French movement called 5050×2020, calls for 50/50 gender equality in the French film industry by the year 2020. The number 82 is significant because it represents the number of films by female directors, which includes mixed-gender teams that premiered in competition at Cannes in its 71 year history.

As the women approached the steps, Blanchett read the following statement:

“As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress.”

Women have traveled through waves of feminism in history, the first being in the 19th century when the women’s suffrage movement began and the second being in the 1960s and 1970s when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created. Since then, the role of women has changed, however there is dissatisfaction among women regarding gender disparities in pay and advancement and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Women made huge strides as well as suffered some setbacks throughout history. However many of their gains were made during the two eras of activism in favor of women’s rights.

It’s amazing to see how far women have come throughout history and to recognize moments like taking a stand in unison the way these 82 women did. Taking a stand on equality in a highly publicized event like this shows other women as well as young girls that vocalizing one’s ideas is valuable.

The premiere of Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun” film was fitting to watch after the protest. The film tells a true story of a group of women and girls who were captured in Iraq and Syria and sold into sexual slavery by Islamic fighters. At the end, women came to the rescue of their fellow women and took up arms to take their country back.

The festival back in 2015 refused to allow certain women into screenings unless they were wearing heels. Most of the women who were in their fifties were turned away because they were wearing flats.

It’s incredibly stupid for the festival to turn away women for wearing flats. Not all women can wear heels due to medical reasons, such as bunion surgeries. Flats are better in this case because they’re lighter on the feet than stilettos.

However, it’s understandable if there is a strict dress code that must be followed because no one wants to see someone dressed as if they hopped out of bed with sweatpants and messy hair. Women should be allowed to wear shoes that they are most comfortable in only if the footing wear is decent and does not look worn out. Men are less criticized for what they wear than women are and it’s unfair for women to be treated as if they are in the wrong.

At the end of the day, if women are going to be criticized for their looks men should be equally criticized for what they choose to wear at red carpet events. How about asking a man to wear heels, then maybe they’ll understand why a women chooses to wear flats.

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