Gretchen Carlson announced this week her return to TV with a deal to host three A+E documentaries built around the #MeToo movement
Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who won a $20 million settlement over sexual harassment at the network, announced this week her return to TV with a deal to host three A+E documentaries built around the #MeToo movement.
The first of the specials will focus on sexual harassment suffered by “everyday” working women such as teachers, policewomen and those serving in the military, Carlson tells PEOPLE.
The special will also include “some of the high-profile men accused of some of these actions,” she says, “and we will have some surprises with men speaking for the first time to me about what happened and where they go from here and lessons they have learned.”
While Carlson, 51, didn’t reveal which of the high-profile men brought down by #MeToo accusations will be on the show, she said the men were receptive when asked to participate.
“We need men in order to win this fight,” she says, “and lessons learned from some of these men will be a valuable part of this.”
Carlson’s lawsuit in 2016 accused her boss, former Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment and retaliation.
Ailes was accused of firing Carlson from the network after he “sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” she alleged in her suit, according to papers obtained by PEOPLE.
Her coming forward led to Ailes’ resignation in July 2016, less than a year before his death at age 77 in May, and opened the door on the alleged mistreatment of other female employees at the network.
“This was really important for me to go back to my passion and what I worked 27 years for,” Carlson tells PEOPLE, “and I wanted to be a shining example for all the women who have not been able to go back to their careers.”
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“Of the thousands of women who have reached out to me,” Carlson continues, “the most devastating part of their story other than having been harassed and losing their jobs, 99.9 percent have not gone back to their chosen profession ever again.”
“That is the outrageous, under-told part of this story,” she continues. “They are blackballed for life simply for having the courage to say something was wrong.”
Last year Carlson wrote the book Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, which explores how sexual harassment affects women from all walks of life. Building on her passion as an advocate for women, Carlson on Wednesday announced MOMentum, a new program she created with the March of Dimes — for which she serves as a board member — to train women how to advocate for policies benefiting the health and well-being of mothers, babies and families.
“If women don’t speak up about these issues, who is going to right now?” says the former Miss America 1989. “We are not seeing a tremendous amount of traction on the issues most important to our children.”
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Women can apply for a spot in the Gretchen Carlson Advocacy Fellows Program for training from Carlson via webinars and an in-person gathering in Washington, D.C. here.
“Moms and babies in the U.S. are facing an urgent health crisis,” says Stacey D. Stewart, president of March of Dimes, a leading advocate for the health of mothers and babies. “We are confident that the advocacy fellows will connect with policymakers to serve as a powerful voice and champion for change, policies and programs for healthy moms, strong babies and March of Dimes in their community and nationally.”
Carlson’s Gift of Courage Fund provided funding for the program, which seeks applicants from across the country. No policy experience is required.
A parent of two teenagers — Kaia, 14, and Christian, 13 — with husband Casey Close, Carlson expects fellows will work on issues including lobbying at the local, state and national level for increased maternity and paternity leave and flexible hours for moms at work. Carlson said she hopes to empower women “to know their voices matter.”
“It shows that this idea of being fierce and being able to stand up and have a voice, this movement is not just about stopping harassment,” she says. “It’s about women finding their voice and knowing their voice matters.”