Harry Potter

star Emma Watson has donated £1 million ($1.9m) to a new fund for victims of sexual harassment ahead of a show of female solidarity at the Baftas, where an array of British stars dressed in black and walked the red carpet accompanied by feminist activists.

Actresses were joined by special guests on the red carpet, "to show solidarity with people across all industries who have experienced inequality and abuse", while other guests wore badges of support.

The move echoes last month's Golden Globes initiative and shows unity with the Time's Up movement, launched in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

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The gesture follows the launch of the Justice and Equality Fund, which aims to provide support and advocacy projects across the UK for victims of sexual harassment, as well as the publication of an open letter backed by more than 200 leading female stars to eradicate abuse and discrimination across all industries.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson gave the fund a huge boost with a 1 million ($1.9m) donation.

Tom Hiddleston and Keira Knightley are also among the names listed on the official Go Fund Me page as having each donated £10,000 ($19,000).

Other donations include £500 ($950) from Emma Thompson, and £1000 ($1900) each from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and Noomi Rapace.

The fund has additionally received more than £500,000 ($950,000) in anonymous donations.

Watson, 27, who played Hermione Granger in the eight-film Harry Potter franchise from 2001 to 2011, is reportedly worth £39m ($79m) according to last year's Sunday Times Rich List.

She was among the first to speak out against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who is facing accusations by numerous female stars of sexual harassment and rape.

Watson worked with him in 2011 when she starred in his film My Week With Marilyn.

The then-19-year-old looked visibly uncomfortable when they were pictured together shortly after partying in Central London after a night at the Baftas.

In images taken at the time, a young Watson can be seen leaving Mahiki nighclub in London as the then 58-year-old producer grabbed her from behind.

After the allegations surfaced, the actress and campaigner for equal rights tweeted her support of the women who had come forward.

Posting to Twitter, she wrote: "I stand with all the women who have been sexually harassed, and am awestruck by their bravery. This mistreatment of women has to stop."

In recent years Watson has become a leading figure in the fight for gender equality after taking up her position as Women Goodwill Ambassador for the UN in 2014.

Her donation follows the publication of an open letter backed by more than 200 leading female stars in the entertainment industry.

The letter, one of two published in Sunday's The Observer newspaper ahead of Sunday night's Bafta awards, demands the eradication of sexual harassment from across all industries.

Double Oscar-winner Thompson and Bond star Naomie Harris are among signatories on the open letter standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Time's Up movement in calling for an end to harassment, abuse, and impunity in a world "ripe for change".

The stars of film, TV and stage have also joined forces with more than 160 activists, academics and service providers, to launch the Justice and Equality Fund which will aim to resource a network of support and advocacy organisation projects across the UK.

The Go Fund Me page states: "We have created the Justice and Equality Fund, to create the far-reaching personal, social, legal and policy changes that will ensure everyone can feel safe at work, at play and at home.

"Together we can end the culture of harassment, abuse and impunity."

The open letter from women in entertainment states: "This movement is bigger than just a change in our industry alone.

"This movement is intersectional, with conversations across race, class, community, ability and work environment, to talk about the imbalance of power."

The letter highlights the gender pay gap, the insecurities of the gig economy and freelance work as well as research which found more than half of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment at work.

It continues: "In the very near past, we lived in a world where sexual harassment was an uncomfortable joke; an unavoidable awkward part of being a girl or a woman.

"It was certainly not to be discussed, let alone addressed. In 2018, we seem to have woken up in a world ripe for change. If we truly embrace this moment, a line in the sand will turn to stone."

It says high-profile stars "need to use our power as communicators and connectors to shift the way society sees and treats us".

"We need to examine the kind of womanhood our industry promotes and sells to the world."

They call for "collective power" in bringing the Time's Up movement to workers across all industries "in the limelight or the shadows" to galvanise others and invite supporters to donate to their new fund.

Managed by Rosa, the UK Justice And Equality Fund aims to make workplaces safe for all and ensure anyone subjected to harassment and abuse is able to access support.

The new fund closely mirrors the Time's Up campaign propelled by the US entertainment industry to tackle harassment and sexism.

Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon each donated US$500,000 ($700,000) to the organisation's legal defense fund, which will provide financial assistance to victims of sexual harassment, assault or abuse while at work, regardless of the industry they are employed in.

Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg's Wunderkinder Foundation donated US$2 million ($2.8m); Katie McGrath and Star Trek creator JJ Abrams gave US$1 million ($1.4m); and Taylor Swift and Oprah Winfrey each donated US$100,000 ($140,400) to the cause.

Others backing the campaign include Taylor Swift ($140,400), Natalie Portman ($70,000), Cate Blanchett ($70,000), Emma Stone ($70,000), Scarlett Johansson ($28,000) and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg ($35,000).

The guests include Laura Bates who founded the award-winning Everyday Sexism Project, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, co-founder of UK Black Pride, and Eileen Pullen and Gwen Davis, two of the 'Dagenham Girls' who walked out of a Ford Motor Company plant after learning they were being paid less than their male counterparts in 1968.

A second letter signed by more than 160 activists, academics and service providers welcomes the involvement of the stars.

It reads: "For each woman in the entertainment industry who has spoken out, there are thousands of women whose stories go unheard... These are not isolated incidents.

"This is about power and inequality; and it is systemic."