On Monday, the MoVE Initiative hosted a panel about the #MeToo movement, and what young voters can do to ensure the movement doesn’t lose its momentum. For around two hours, Councilmember Helena Moreno and Corporate Playbook CEO and diversity expert Deborah Elam answered questions about their experiences with sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender discrimination in the workplace and gave advice for what comes next for voters.
For Deborah Elam, the next step is simple: head to the polls. Elam points out that it isn’t enough to be informed on the issues. Being informed does little good if that isn’t followed up with taking action at the voting booth.
Councilmember Moreno agreed. “We have so many different types of marches and causes to support, where all these people show up,” Moreno said. “We should see that type of excitement at the voting booth.”
Moreno also had a few words for those who use the excuse that they’re too busy on voting day to head to the polls: “You can early vote. You have all day on election day to go vote.”
Elam also spoke on how women, particularly women of color can work to overcome the challenges they face getting to the top of their chosen careers. One thing that she noted is that women tend to have more “mentor-type” figures in their careers and fewer “sponsor-type” figures than men do.
By Elam’s definition, a mentor is a person who will give you feedback on your performance and advice on how you might improve and do better. In contrast, a sponsor is someone who will speak up for you when you’re not there, put your name forward for projects, and help protect your reputation. “So as women, we’re getting plenty of feedback from all of our mentors,” Elam said. “But we need more sponsors who will support us.”
Both took questions from the audience as well as the moderators, and several audience members shared their own stories. Several political candidates were also in attendance, including Dr. Tammy Savoie (candidate for Louisiana House District 94), Carlos Zervignon (candidate for Louisiana House District 98), and Belden Batiste (candidate for Louisiana House District 98).
For those who aren’t aware, MoVE is the Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative, and they are dedicated to event planning, policy research, field strategy, fundraising, and more to ensure that young people have a greater political voice in New Orleans. They have a number of committees currently seeking additional members; you can learn more and sign up for those here.
Also attending Monday’s event were two members of Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual trauma, improving systems response, and creating social change to end sexual violence. Services they offer include advocacy, counseling, and legal services for survivors of sexual violence and are provided at no cost. You can learn more about them and their mission here.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.