CalArts Contingent at UN’s HeForShe IMPACT Summit in New York

On Sept. 26, a contingent of CalArtians traveled to New York City for the HeForShe IMPACT Summit, a convening of world leaders, international CEOs, university presidents, and business and industry leaders, to share ground-breaking practices and solutions that are working toward the achievement of gender equality.

Organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women—better known as UN Women—the summit included remarks by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan; a panel discussion led by Award-winning actress and UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador, Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, Les Misérables); and a keynote by actor and activist Winston Duke (M’Baku in Black Panther).

CalArts also played a role in the summit, working with HeForShe’s Elizabeth Nyamayaro to develop a class that produced animated student films to highlight issues surrounding gender equality. Several of the films were screened during the summit and excerpts were shown in between speakers. CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan addressed the UN gathering immediately before Duke’s closing keynote. His remarks acknowledged the work of the students and faculty, as well as CalArts’ role in helping balance the gender imbalance.

Rajan’s entire text is posted below:

It is an honor to be here with leaders spanning the globe from government, education, business, and culture. I am inspired by the dedication of everyone in this room working in unique ways to shape a future where genders are equal in the thought, word, and deed of all citizens.

Artists often call attention to failings… the failings of governments, failings of industry, and our failings as a society. They do this through the public platforms they occupy, and often by the work they make. It is incumbent upon us, men within the creative industries, to take ownership of the global problem of gender imbalance. A problem, which we as men, have enabled to exist.

The power artists possess is great: a one-minute film or a short poem can do more to bring understanding to gender equality than an hour-long speech from an elected official, or even a College President. At the California Institute of the Arts, our mission is to incubate culture creators, and in this work we think about the impact of gender equality every day.

For example, in 1975 CalArts’s first class of animators contained only two women. Today, 70% of over 200 animation students identify as female. While the industry is still 77% male, our work on gender equality today will shape a different animation industry tomorrow. We know this will result in the inclusion of more workers in the industry who identify as women. We know it will mean the inclusion of more stories about and by women which challenge conventional gender stereotypes. And we know it will give women strong public role models to which they can aspire.

Today we have seen a few of the short films that CalArts students created over the last few months. Guided by faculty Pia Borg, So-yeon Kim, and Film School Dean Leighton Pierce, they worked with Elizabeth Nyamayaro and the HeForShe team to produce works that call attention to our failings regarding the equality of women in society.

Thank you to CalArts students Ana Perez Lopez, Danski Tang, Melissa Ferrari, Kyung Won Song, Jenna Caravello, Gabriel Mangold, Gabriela Escovar, Christopher Bishop, Louise Pau, Minha Song, Elaine Won Choi and Nahla Hambazaza* for your efforts on this important initiative. CalArts is committed to our partnership with HeForShe so that, together, we can create a gender-equal world.

If you missed the summit, the entire convening is available to watch online. The CalArts’ segment begins at the 2:15:05 mark.

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*Student Nahla Hambazaza was inadvertently left off the original text.

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