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  • I am so excited to be here.

  • Everything in America is so much bigger than in Europe.

  • Look at me -- I am huge!

  • (Laughter)

  • It's fantastic!

  • And TED Talks -- TED Talks are where everybody has great ideas.

  • So the question is: Where do those great ideas come from?

  • Well, it's a little bit of debate,

  • but it's generally reckoned that the average person --

  • that's me --

  • has about 50,000 thoughts a day.

  • Which is a lot,

  • until you realize that 95 percent of them

  • are the same ones you had the day before.

  • (Laughter)

  • And a lot of mine are really boring, OK?

  • I think things like,

  • "Oh! I know -- I must clean the floor.

  • Oh! I forgot to walk the dog."

  • My most popular:

  • "Don't eat that cookie."

  • (Laughter)

  • So, 95 percent repetition.

  • That leaves us with just a five percent window of opportunity each day

  • to actually think something new.

  • And some of my new thoughts are useless.

  • The other day I was watching some sports on television,

  • and I was trying to decide why I just don't engage with it.

  • Some of it I find curious.

  • This is odd.

  • (Laughter)

  • Do you think it would be worth being that flexible

  • just to be able to see your heel at that angle?

  • (Laughter)

  • And here's the thing:

  • I'm never going to be able to relate to that,

  • because I'm never going to be able to do it, OK?

  • Well, not twice, anyway.

  • (Laughter)

  • But I'll tell you the truth.

  • The truth is I have never been any good at sport, OK?

  • I've reached that wonderful age when all my friends say,

  • "Oh, I wish I was as fit as I was when I was 18."

  • And I always feel rather smug then.

  • (Laughter)

  • I'm exactly as fit as I was when I --

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I couldn't run then. I'm certainly not going to do it now.

  • (Laughter)

  • So then I had my new idea:

  • Why not engage people like me in sport?

  • I think what the world needs now

  • is the Olympics for people with zero athletic ability.

  • (Laughter)

  • Oh, it would be so much more fun.

  • We'd have three basic rules, OK?

  • Obviously no drugs; no corruption, no skills.

  • (Laughter)

  • It would be --

  • No, it's a terrible idea.

  • And I also know why I don't engage with sport when I watch it on television.

  • It's because probably 97 percent of it is about men running

  • and men kicking things,

  • men trying to look neatly packaged in Lycra.

  • There is --

  • (Laughter)

  • Not always successfully.

  • There is --

  • (Laughter)

  • There is so little female sport on television,

  • that a young woman watching might be forgiven for thinking,

  • and how can I put this nicely,

  • that the male member is the very lever you need

  • to get yourself off the couch and onto a sports ground.

  • (Laughter)

  • The inequalities in sport are breathtaking.

  • So this is what happens to me:

  • I have a brand new idea,

  • and immediately I come back to an old one.

  • The fact is, there is not now,

  • nor has there ever been in the whole of history,

  • a single country in the world where women have equality with men.

  • Not one.

  • 196 countries,

  • it hasn't happened in the whole of evolution.

  • So, here is a picture of evolution.

  • (Laughter)

  • We women are not even in it!

  • (Laughter)

  • It's a wonder men have been able to evolve quite so brilliantly.

  • So --

  • (Laughter)

  • It bugs me, and I know I should do something about it.

  • But I'm busy, OK?

  • I have a full-on career,

  • I've got three kids, I've got an elderly mom.

  • In fact, if I'm honest with you,

  • one of the reasons I came out here

  • is because TED Talks said I could have 15 minutes to myself,

  • and I never have that much time --

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • So I'm busy.

  • And anyway, I already had a go at changing the world.

  • Here's the thing, OK?

  • Everybody has inside themselves what I call an "activation button."

  • It's the button that gets pressed when you think,

  • "I must do something about this."

  • It gets pressed for all sorts of reasons.

  • Maybe you face some kind of inequality,

  • or you've come across an injustice of some kind,

  • sometimes an illness strikes,

  • or you're born in some way disadvantaged,

  • or perhaps underprivileged.

  • So I was born gay, OK?

  • I've always known,

  • I don't think my family were the least bit surprised.

  • Here is a picture of me aged four.

  • I look cute,

  • but inside I genuinely believed that I looked like Clint Eastwood.

  • (Laughter)

  • So my activation button was pressed when I had my kids --

  • three wonderful kids, born to my then-partner.

  • Now here's the thing: I work on television in Britain.

  • By the time they were born, I was already hosting my own shows

  • and working in the public eye.

  • I love what I do,

  • but I love my kids more.

  • And I didn't want them to grow up with a secret.

  • 1994, when my son, my youngest was born,

  • there was not, as far as I was aware,

  • a single out, gay woman in British public life.

  • I don't think secrets are a good thing.

  • I think they are a cancer of the soul.

  • So I decided to come out.

  • Everybody warned me that I would never work again,

  • but I decided it was absolutely worth the risk.

  • Well, it was hell.

  • In Britain, we have a particularly vicious section of the right-wing press,

  • and they went nuts.

  • And their hatred stirred up the less stable elements of society,

  • and we got death threats --

  • enough death threats that I had to take the kids into hiding,

  • and we had to have police protection.

  • And I promise you there were many moments in the still of the night

  • when I was terrified by what I had done.

  • Eventually the dust settled.

  • Against all expectation I carried on working,

  • and my kids were and continue to be absolutely fantastic.

  • I remember when my son was six, he had a friend over to play.

  • They were in the next room; I could hear them chatting.

  • The friend said to my son, "What's it like having two mums?"

  • I was a little anxious to hear, so I leant in to hear and my son said,

  • "It's fantastic, because if one of them's sick,

  • you've still got another one to cook for you."

  • (Laughter)

  • So my activation button for gay equality was pressed,

  • and along with many, many others,

  • I campaigned for years for gay rights,

  • and in particular, the right to marry the person that I love.

  • In the end, we succeeded.

  • And in 2014, on the day that the law was changed,

  • I married my wife, who I love very much, indeed.

  • (Applause)

  • We didn't do it in a quiet way -- we did it on the stage

  • at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

  • It was a great event.

  • The hall seats two-and-a-half thousand people.

  • We invited 150 family and friends, then I let it be known to the public:

  • anybody who wanted to come and celebrate, please come and join us.

  • It would be free to anybody who wanted to come.

  • Two-and-half thousand people turned up.

  • (Applause)

  • Every kind of person you can imagine:

  • gays, straights, rabbis, nuns, married people,

  • black, white -- the whole of humanity was there.

  • And I remember standing on that stage thinking, "How fantastic.

  • Job done.

  • Love triumphs.

  • Law changed."

  • And I --

  • (Applause)

  • And I genuinely thought my activation days were over, OK?

  • So every year in that same hall,

  • I host a fantastic concert to celebrate International Women's Day.

  • We gather the world's only all-female orchestra,

  • we play fantastic music by forgotten or overlooked women composers,

  • we have amazing conductors --

  • it's Marin Alsop there from Baltimore conducting,

  • Petula Clark singing --

  • and I give a lecture on women's history.

  • I love to gather inspirational stories from the past and pass them on.

  • Too often, I think history's what I call the Mount Rushmore model.

  • It looks majestic, but the women have been entirely left out of it.

  • And I was giving a talk in 2015 about the suffragettes --

  • I'm sure you know those magnificent women who fought so hard

  • for the right for women in Britain to vote.

  • And their slogan was: "Deeds, not words."

  • And boy, they succeeded,

  • because women did indeed get the vote in 1928.

  • So I'm giving this talk about this,

  • and as I'm talking, what I realized is:

  • this was not a history lecture I was giving;

  • this was not something where the job was done.

  • This was something where there was so much left to do.

  • Nowhere in the world, for example,

  • do women have equal representation in positions of power.

  • OK, let's take a very quick look at the top 100 companies

  • in the London Stock Exchange in 2016.

  • Top 100 companies: How many women running them?

  • Seven. OK. Seven. That's all right, I suppose.

  • Until you realize that 17 are run by men called "John."

  • (Laughter)

  • There are more men called John running FTSE 100 companies --

  • (Laughter)

  • than there are women.

  • There are 14 run by men called "Dave."

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, I'm sure Dave and John are doing a bang-up job.

  • (Laughter)

  • OK. Why does it matter?

  • Well, it's that pesky business of the gender pay gap.

  • Nowhere in the world do women earn the same as men.

  • And that is never going to change

  • unless we have more women at the top in the boardroom.

  • We have plenty of laws;

  • the Equal Pay Act in Britain was passed in 1975.

  • Nevertheless, there are still many, many women

  • who, from early November until the end of the year,

  • by comparison to their male colleagues,

  • are effectively working for free.

  • In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates

  • that women will finally get equal pay in ...

  • 2133!

  • Yay!

  • (Laughter)

  • That's a terrible figure.

  • And here's the thing:

  • the day before I came out to give my talk,

  • the World Economic Forum revised it.

  • So that's good, because that's a terrible -- 2133.

  • Do you know what they revised it to?

  • 2186.

  • (Laughter)

  • Yeah, another 53 years, OK?

  • We are not going to get equal pay

  • in my grandchildren's grandchildren's lives

  • under the current system.

  • And I have waited long enough.

  • I've waited long enough in my own business.

  • In 2016 I became the very first woman on British television

  • to host a prime-time panel show.

  • Isn't that great? Wonderful, I'm thrilled.

  • But --

  • (Applause)

  • But 2016! The first!

  • Television's been around for 80 years!

  • (Laughter)

  • It may be television's not so important,

  • but it's kind of symptomatic, isn't it?