DETROIT (WJBK) - All eyes were on actress Rose McGowan as she kicked off the women's convention with a powerful speech in Detroit Friday.
"It is not our shame," McGowan said. "The scarlet letter is theirs. It is not ours. We are pure. We are strong. We are brave and we will fight."
It was her first big appearance since she went public with rape and sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein earlier this month.
McGowan spoke to women from across the country at the inaugural Women's Convention in Detroit.
"I came to be a voice for all of us," she said. "Who have been told we are nothing. For all of us who have been looked down on, for all of us who have been grabbed by the ****y."
Friday's convention began with a march from Hart Plaza to Cobo Center.
"We have to have people that are going to back this up and make some changes," said one woman attending the conference. "We need serious change right now."
McGowan has become one of the leading voices against sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood.
"I'm a victim, I'm a warrior, I'm a survivor," she said. "I'm pretty much like all of you."
Participating in a panel discussion "Fighting for Sexual Assault Survivors in the Age of Betsy DeVos" referenced her hashtag #RoseArmy -- what she calls her virtual flash mob for justice. The #RoseArmy movement online is not named after her, but rather the flower, symbolic of all women she said, adding "we are beautiful and we have thorns."
"Writers in Hollywood use rape as a plot device," she said. "And they can't imagine that women get strong otherwise."
Other survivors and activists discussed current laws, gender equality and personal experiences. Many said they were sexually assaulted in college.
"You shouldn't need a lawyer to get help from your school," said panel speaker Grace Starling.
"Almost half of transgender people have been sexually assaulted," said panelist Jay Wu. "That's 47 percent."
The panel also discussed education on existing and potential laws actress Amber Tamblyn -- joining the conversation.
"I feel like the small thing that has happened even with Harvey Weinstein, it is like the pin has been pulled out of the grenade," Amber Tamblyn.
McGowan, who never specifically mentioned Weinstein, says Friday she has been silenced for 20 years and hopes she, along with these women, can be the voice for others who have also been silenced.
"They've had their foot on our necks for a very long time," she said. "It is time to return the favor."
There will be sessions, workshops, activities and panels throughout the weekend. For more information and a complete schedule, CLICK HERE.