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Amber Heard: There is more work to be done in bid for gender equality

The actress said she has been filled with hope by the strides made recently.

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Amber Heard said more must be done on gender equality (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Amber Heard said more must be done on gender equality (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Amber Heard said more must be done on gender equality (Anthony Devlin/PA)

There is much more work to be done in the quest for gender equality, actress Amber Heard has said at an event for International Women’s Day.

The Aquaman star said great strides have been made in recent years but there is a long way to go to eliminate discrimination and injustice.

In a keynote speech at an event organised by Marie Claire, Salesforce and United Nations Human Rights, she said: “Discrimination limits opportunities and choice in a world of immense potential and talent.

“The struggle for equality is a long one and one must acknowledge and enjoy the success, especially recently.”

She added: “The success of recent social media movements have done so much to energise a new willingness to believe women’s stories. I see the change every day from the roles I see in the scripts across my desk to the kinds and types and tone of the conversations we are having behind the scenes and it fills my heart with hope.

“The truth is there is so much more to be done. Inequality is deeply unjust and yet common, normalised, tolerated and visible.

“At its heart lies a subtle system of deeply seated beliefs that in one way or another are held and upheld by many.”

Addressing the continuing issue of limited access to contraception and abortion that persists around the world, she said: “Motherhood is glorified and so is martyrhood in the name of it.

“Women endure unnecessary, painful and humiliating steps in literally every aspect of their healthcare.

“Every single day 800 women and girls die from preventable causes related to childbirth and pregnancy, their deaths are seen as a sad fact of life when in fact they are the results of inadequate investment and discriminatory policies.

“This obsession with controlling women’s bodies manifests in the fierce opposition to sexual and reproductive education and services, particularly for adolescents.

“One in four adolescent girls need contraception and can’t get it, which leads to millions of unwanted pregnancies. The prudish denial of women and girls’ sexuality in service of a false notion of innocence prevents healthy discussions about sex, consent, pleasure, respect.

“Discussions are essential to putting an end to widespread bullying, harassment, homophobia, sexual and gender based violence, discussions that I myself could have benefited from a million times over.”

Heard, who filed for divorce from actor Johnny Depp in 2016 amid allegations of domestic violence, said that the burden of personal safety is placed on the shoulders of women, adding: “The idea that men’s libidos are too hard to control absolves them of their own personal responsibility and makes women and women alone accountable for navigating their own safety.

“Their claims of violence are easily dismissed if their behaviour seems reckless or out of the acceptable standards.

“Women face questions like ‘why were you on a tinder date, why did you wear that short a skirt? A woman’s sexual history still continues to affect her credibility in a rape case.”

Depp denied the abuse allegations made by Heard and in a joint statement confirming they would resolve their divorce proceedings privately, they said: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain.

“There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Issuing a rallying call to the assembled women gathered at the London event, she said: “Attitudes can shift, stereotypes can be dismantled, real and lasting change, as we have seen in the success of recent social movement, can be vast and profound.

“We need to now take our passion for change and push back against these false and harmful biases and continue to demand and fight for equality.

“By institutionalising change, our commitment to ending violence and discrimination against women will not be tied to fleeting cycles of outrage or viral media movements but instead be permanently enshrined in some of our most important global institutions.”

She added: “We have inherited far too much to accept injustice and together we are far too strong to excuse it any longer.”

PA