When the Black Women’s Expo arrives next week, the #MeToo movement will be front and center.
This year’s Town Hall at the 24th annual event will bring a diverse panel and interactive audience together to discuss the gender pay gap and #MeToo, the national movement to combat sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.
The experiential expo that’s now the longest-running expo of its kind, annually drawing more than 30,000 visitors to McCormick Place, takes place April 8-10.
“We have chosen to … address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and pay inequality at our BWe Town Hall Meeting, in an effort to give African-American women in Chicago affected by this epidemic a voice in this fight,” said Expo founder Merry Green.
In 2015, women were making 79 cents for every dollar a man made. Women account for nearly half the workforce and are the breadwinners in four of 10 American families. But they are paid less in almost every occupation, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
And while the U.S. Census Bureau reports the gender wage gap at its smallest since 1960, discrimination in pay, hiring or promotions remains, says the Washington, D.C.-based institute.
The #MeToo movement began with sexual assault allegations that derailed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s career, and has since toppled dozens of powerful men in entertainment, media and politics. And ever more women have felt empowered to come forward with stories of being victimized.
Other issues dotting a chaotic political and social landscape will be tackled over the course of the three days. In the wake of the youth-driven national March For Our Lives, this year’s Teen Summit will address gun violence and other challenges facing African-American youths.
Chicago is the first stop of a three-city tour that includes Atlanta and Dallas. The family-focused event draws attendees from 14 states for workshops, seminars and forums attracting businesses targeting black consumers, and national speakers and experts on topics from entrepreneurship and finance to career advancement and health and wellness.
Entertainers this year include actress Kimberly Elise, Basketball Wives star Tami Roman, R&B artist Johnny Gill, hip-hop artist Remy Ma, and gospel great Latice Crawford. Toyota Motor North America — founding sponsor of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History — comes on this year as inaugural title sponsor, joining other long-time sponsors that include Walgreen’s, United Airlines, Luster Products and BMO Harris Bank.
More information can be found at www.theblackwomensexpo.com.