Dear presidential candidates and consultants, debate moderators, media organizations and political commentators:

Women are 51 percent of the population and 53 percent of voters, yet the issues that disproportionately affect us remain sidelined from the debate stages. With this debate season’s first all-women moderator panel slated for November 20 in Atlanta, Georgia, we ask moderators, presidential candidates and media organizations alike to prevent this critical opportunity from becoming an empty publicity stunt: talk to the millions of us watching and waiting to hear substantive questions about sexual and gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and survivors’ rights. We demand that moderators ask about #MeToo.

The night of last month’s presidential primary debate marked two years since #MeToo went viral – two years of countless survivors shouldering the burden of sharing their stories and advocating for accountability from institutions and our communities alike. And yet, moderators and candidates failed to use their time on the stage to address the plight of sexual harassment and gender-based violence. According to TIME’S UP Now, there have been zero questions about sexual harassment, zero questions about child care, and zero questions about paid family and medical leave during the first four debates of 2019. In fact, historical research by TIME’S UP Now found zero questions about sexual harassment policy out of over 4,000 debate questions in two decades.

Sexual violence is a national problem that deserves a national response. It must remain a vital part of the conversation and, no matter one’s politics, should be centered in plans for economic security, educational equity, racial justice, immigration, climate change, and equal opportunity. Sweeping sexual violence under the rug or denying these conversations airtime won’t change the harsh reality that our current systems maintain abuses of power that enable predation on the basis of sex and gender. For every survivor silenced by nondisclosure agreements and forced arbitration, there will only be more instances of gross misconduct and an increasingly isolating and marginalizing judicial system.

Survivors are a constituency demanding change. We are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through our trauma every day, despite being silenced and erased by a world that tells us our healing isn’t important or prevention isn’t possible. Because of us, 15 states have passed new laws protecting workers from sexual harassment and state legislators across the country have introduced close to 200 bills to strengthen protections against workplace harassment, according to a recent report by the National Women’s Law Center. Because of us, Congress has advanced important policies addressing harassment and discrimination like the BE HEARD in the Workplace (BE HEARD) Act, the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA) Reform Act, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act and many others. Instead of ignoring or silencing us, we invite you to work with us.

We demand real solutions from candidates. We demand substantive discussion from debate stage moderators, spin room media, and political commentators. We demand responsiveness and transparency from news media organizations and institutions across every sector.
Last month, we launched #MeTooVoter to invite policymakers and leaders to work with us in advancing change. At its core, #MeTooVoter is about accountability and using proactive policy change to dismantle oppressive power structures and build in its place a culture that cultivates dignity and healing. It’s time to center gender justice, transformative healing, meaningful accountability and collective responsibility. This begins by asking about #MeToo.

The undersigned,
The ‘me too.’ Movement
National Women’s Law Center
Justice for Migrant Women
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
Feminist Press
The New York Women’s Foundation
Not Without Black Women
KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change
National Women’s Health Network
Women Employed
Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS)
National Association for Female Executives (NAFE)
Day One NY
Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault
National Partnership for Women & Families
Girls Inc.
Enough is Enough Voter Project
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Women’s Law Project
National LGBTQ Task Force
Atlanta Women for Equality
It’s On Us
End Rape On Campus
National Organization for Women
Arte Sana (art heals)
Alianza Latina en contra la Agresión Sexual
Sakhi for South Asian Women
Legal Aid at Work
National Organization for Women New York
Johnson Webbert & Young
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network
Ohio Domestic Violence Network
V-Day and One Billion Rising
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Collective Action for Safe Spaces
Ohio Women’s Alliance
UM Law Human Rights Clinic
Black Women’s Roundtable
BHS Stop Harassing
New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
New York State Coalition Against Domestic
National Council of Jewish Women/ Cleveland
Public Justice
National Partnership for Women & Families
United State of Women
Center for American Progress
Equal Rights Advocates
Stop Sexual Assault in Schools
California Employment Lawyers Association
Faculty Against Rape
Work Equity
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Wellesley Centers for Women
IMPACT Chicago Self-Defense

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