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Jane Fonda on Women Making a Difference at Any Age

diverse business women chatting at coffee break

Photo credit: (UnitoneVector)

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are octogenarians who are only getting more outspoken with age. It’s one of the benefits of aging, say the longtime friends and stars of Grace and Frankie. 

“Women get braver as they get older. And certainly, I’ve always been brave,” said Fonda, who has won over 15 major acting awards and has been an outspoken activist and successful entrepreneur. 

“But now it’s like, what the heck do we have to lose?” she added. “I don’t have to put up with something that I feel is wrong. I don’t have to play nice anymore. I can say, ‘Yes, I am ambitious. What do you want to do about it?’ I want to succeed. I want to do good. And that’s OK.”

This is excellent news, Fonda said, because of the demographics of gender. 

“Women are the fastest growing demographic in the world. There are more of us to start with. And we live on average five years longer than men,” she said. 

Tomlin added that aging came as a big surprise to her. But she is impressed with what is possible. 

Commenting on her friend, for example, Tomlin said how impressed she is by Fonda’s role as a leader in climate action. In 2019, she moved to Washington, D.C., to participate in “Fire Drill Friday” climate protests – where she was repeatedly arrested.

Activism, Fonda said, is a powerful antidote to despair. 

If you feel despair about the state of the world, she suggested finding what you’re interested in. 

“Are you interested in birds? Well, there are almost 9 billion fewer birds in North America now than in 1970. Are you interested in skiing or winter sports? Well, we may be losing our winters. Are you interested in fishing? Well, our rivers and streams are becoming uninhabitable.” 

There’s plenty of need for women leaders, she said – especially women leaders who join in community.

“Women understand community. Women are community types. And we have to make ourselves heard and felt in this country and our body politics. Community, caring about each other, the public sphere, and the common good. Let’s do it.”

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin spoke at the 2022 Pennsylvania Conference for Women. This article is based on their talk. It has been lightly edited for brevity and