Charlize Theron Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Academy Award winning actor and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Charlize Theron is optimistic on the fire that’s been lit by women across the globe speaking out against sexual harassment and fighting for equal pay.

She’s also firmly on the side of the kids in the US who are fighting to change gun laws. The 42-year-old South Africa-born actress, among the highest paid in Hollywood, was speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai Saturday on how the world is changing and how she believes that “tenacity” and “resilience” in young people will make all the difference.

On whether the #MeToo movement is making a difference
“I am an optimist. I think we all have to be. It’s sometimes hard, and I completely understand that too, but I think that it’s undeniable what’s happening with this women’s movement right now and how incredibly active it is... and for whatever that catalyst was... I don’t care... so long as this conversation continues.

“I think the numbers of women who have found strength and a voice to be able to speak about what had happened to them, things that they’ve seen, things that they’ve experienced, is just too powerful for this not to cause change. And so, I can definitely tell you in my industry, hands down, people are thinking differently, they’re talking differently, their awareness is at a level it’s never been before, and I just don’t see how we’re going to move backwards from that. We can only move forwards.”

Theron at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Atlantis in Dubai. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

On the gender pay gap
“I think women are finally asking for transparency and through that transparency I think we’ve seen things that some of us were shocked [by]. I think we always knew that it existed but I think we were in denial about how extreme the numbers and the discrepancies were.

“So, I can tell you that there’s been a fire lit with women in my industry and I’m proud to witness it and I’m proud to be lighting that fire with them. And I think the nicest thing about all of it is that I think women are realising that this is crossing borders, this is crossing nationalities, this is crossing industries, this is not just a Hollywood thing anymore.

“This is something that’s now come to life in every industry out there and we are finally looking at the value or what society values about women. And when we look at that 1 per cent of all the top jobs in the world and the lack of women in those places, well I think we’re finally at a place where women are saying ‘no more’.”

On children protesting gun laws in the US
“I’m going with the kids on this one. You know, I have a very personal experience with gun violence. I lost my father to gun violence and I just don’t understand when people [are] trying to make the conversation the argument that the fix is more guns.

“It’s so outrageous to me. But it also makes complete sense when you look at the policies that are in place and you look at the support and where it’s going, where the finances are coming through... and so people are in bed with each other that should not be in bed with each other. And I think until we kind of clear that up too, we are going to have these issues.”