Trailblazers in women's sports speak in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A special town hall meeting in the South Bay brought together some of the nation's top female athletes, activists and sports executives with the goal of advancing gender equity and women's rights.

Now in its second year, the "Words to Action" event was hosted by the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at San Jose State University. Speakers took to the stage Wednesday to share some of the challenges they've faced, not only in sport, but everyday life.

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"Hearing first person witness testimony really humanizes so many issues for us," said Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and activist. "We also talked about the intersection of sports and violence and gender."

Olympic swimming champion and civil rights attorney Nancy Hogshead-Makar has been a tireless advocate for the protection and support of girls and women in sport. She spoke to the audience on topics such as the #MeToo movement, as well as the handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse trial.

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"How important it is to get the guys on board, with helping half the population, not just with sexual harassment and assault, but with job opportunities and educational opportunities," said Hogshead-Makar. "There's so much that the really good guys can help with."

Former WNBA star and Olympic basketball champion Ruthie Bolton is a survivor of domestic abuse. She spoke on the panel and met with students one-on-one following the session.

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"I'm thankful that a lot of students were here," says Bolton. "It's really important so that we can inspire them, and they can inspire others, like paying it forward."

Tracy added, "We can't let up, we're finally starting to make some forward momentum and we have to continue to push."

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