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THE OSCARS - The 89th Oscars broadcasts live on Oscar SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017, on the ABC Television Network. Ryan Gosling.
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Girls & Women

11 Famous Men Who Fought for Women's Rights This Year

Achieving gender equality requires teamwork.

This year was a big year for women around the world, kicking off with the Women’s March and ending with a cultural reckoning with sexual harassment and assault triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

But women have not been alone in their battle against gender discrimination, many men have joined forces with women and supported their fight for women’s rights in 2017. Global Citizen is spotlighting some of this year’s loudest advocates for women’s rights who prove that men can be feminists too.


Harry Belafonte

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As an advisor to the organizers of the Women’s March, singer and activist Harry Belafonte played a key role in making sure women’s rights were on everyone’s minds this year. Belafonte told the Associated Press that he advised the organizers on strategies for a successful, peaceful protest by drawing on his experiences as a civil rights activist who marched on Washington, D.C. with Martin Luther King, Jr. and from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in the 60s.

From Sir Ian McKellen to Jake Gyllenhaal, plenty of male celebrities attended the Women’s March to support gender equality in person. But they didn’t stop there.

This year saw some bold feminist statements from famous men.

John Legend

Grammy-winner John Legend became a father to daughter Luna last year, but in an interview for the documentary series Makers, the outspoken singer and songwriter said that men shouldn’t wait until they have daughters to start caring about women’s rights.

"It doesn't cost us anything as men, for women to do well. We don't lose out because more women are empowered...more women are leaders. It just makes the world better,” he said

“Why would you want to miss out on the perspective of half the population in the world?” he asked.

Ashton Kutcher

Actor Ashton Kutcher has been working to advance gender equality on multiple fronts. Not only has he been a vocal advocate against sexual exploitation and trafficking — issues that disproportionately affect women, according to the UN — but he has used his fame to bring attention to the gender gap in the US and spoken up for women’s equal rights.

Read more: Ashton Kutcher Shares How His Nonprofit Has Helped Over 6,000 Victims of Child Sex Abuse

David Schwimmer

Earlier this year, actor David Schwimmer, best known for playing Ross Geller on “Friends,” produced a series of short films based on real incidents of workplace sexual harassment as part of a campaign called #ThatsHarassment.

“The whole purpose of [the films] is to encourage people and to give them the courage to speak out if they’re a victim themselves of harassment, or if they witness or are aware of sexual harassment,” Schwimmer told Cosmopolitan Magazine. “The reality [is that] this kind of harassment takes place in the workplace, in a professional environment. And that means it’s about power. The problem is that people don’t step forward or say something if they’re witnessing it because of fear of retaliation.”

What Schwimmer didn’t know then was that in six months time, everyone would be talking about sexual harassment and assault — especially in the workplace.

Read more: Actress Lupita Nyong’o Shares Her Weinstein Story and Calls on Everyone to Break Their Silence

Mark Ruffalo

After hundreds of thousands of women said #MeToo, many men took notice and acknowledged responsibility for their part in the problem. Thousands of men, like actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, posted on social media with the hashtag #HowIWillChange.

Terry Crews

The #MeToo movement didn’t just empower women to share their harassment stories. After the accusations against Weinstein went public, actor Terry Crews shared his own story, showing that it’s not just women who experience sexual harassment.

But Crews also called on men to do better and to hold each other accountable. “If you are making anybody uncomfortable, don’t do that — it’s not that hard!” he told TIME. Crews was recognized as one of the “Silence Breakers” who were named TIME’s 2017 “Person of the Year.”

Justin Baldoni

Actor Justin Baldoni was also quick to comment on the Weinstein scandal, but that’s not all he’s done to advance gender equality this year.

The “Jane the Virgin” star just launched the original series “Man Enough” in which he explores what it means to be a man and challenges stereotypical conceptions of masculinity touching on topics from fatherhood to sexual assault.

Read more: This Board Game Got Fathers Talk to Their Daughters About Feminism – and the Results Are Amazing

Seth Rogen

Often victims of sexual harassment or assault who came forward with allegations are met with disbelief, which often discourages them from speaking out sooner. Comedian Seth Rogen was dead-serious in his show of support for the courageous women who shared their stories.

Anthony Bourdain

Chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain — who is dating actress Asia Argento, one of Weinstein’s accusers — not only voiced his support for victims of harassment and assault, but did not hesitate to put others’ lack of support on blast.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Bourdain even highlighted the issue of sexual harassment within his own industry.

Channing Tatum

Actor Channing Tatum didn’t just speak out, he took action. The “Step Up” star pulled his film about a sexual abuse because it was being developed with Weinstein’s production company.

Ryan Gosling

No list of feminist celebrities would be complete without Ryan Gosling who voiced his support for the victims coming forward and joined others in calling on men to hold each other accountable.

Read more: 27 Famous Men Who Are Proud to Be Feminists

This year was one of both turmoil and progress in the fight for women’s rights. As 2018 approaches, Global Citizen continues to campaign in support of gender equality and against all forms of discrimination. You can take action here to help combat sexual violence against women and girls around the world.