Ambassador Hall’s Opening Remarks at #That’s Harassment Panel Discussion at Vilnius University Library


Ambassador Hall’s Opening Remarks at #That’s Harassment Panel Discussion
Vilnius University Library, Sauletekio al. 5, Vilnius
November 29, 2018

Dear students, faculty, and experts,

Thank you for joining us this afternoon to discuss an incredibly important topic – sexual harassment and sexual violence. We began this conversation last year and as we have seen worldwide, it is vital that we continue addressing this issue.

The topic of sexual harassment may make some people uncomfortable, as it is certainly not easy to talk about, but we have seen – in the United States, in Lithuania, and across the world – that we must bring it into the light.  And we must do that now.

Global estimates from World Health Organization show that about 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.  Thankfully, in the United States, and around the world, we’re seeing an awakening of women – and men – speaking out and demanding changes in society and in the law.

For too long too many people have accepted sexual harassment as just a fact of life – something they just have to deal with in order to advance in their careers or survive daily interactions.  This must change – we can no longer stand by and accept this belief.

Too many women still face tremendous barriers – and yet we know that women are critical to economic growth and global stability.

Sexual harassment impedes progress and society as a whole suffers.  When women are empowered, communities, businesses, and nations thrive.

As we seek to change the belief that harassment is the price one may pay to get ahead, we must first understand clearly what sexual harassment looks like.  In order to change society, we must first redefine what an effective workplace, free of sexual harassment, looks like.

This begins with the brave women and men who have come forward to share their harrowing stories.  Now, it is our responsibility to ensure that their courage is not in vain.  We must work diligently to change workplace culture to reflect the belief that everyone deserves to work, live, and thrive – free of harassment.

Thank you to Ilona for moderating today, thank you to the Gender Studies Center of Vilnius University for hosting, and thank you to all our excellent experts from Vilnius, Warsaw, and Šiauliai.  We are so fortunate to have such a great group of experts and leading voices gathered in one place!

And thank you to all the students and faculty who have come here today for this discussion.