“When Will Women’s Voices Be Heard? When Will the Equal Rights Amendment Be Implemented?”

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While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things,
The fate of Empires and the fall of Kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.

– Robert Burns, from the Rights of Woman, 1792

ERA YES white logo on green rounded background

Holly Joseph, CWI Treasurer, will introduce this urgent and most fundamental subject of “the Rights of Woman” in our own country – these United States – in our own times.  This is a discussion of women’s voices being heard with the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) being a prime focus. 

Alice Paul (1/11/1885-7/9/1977) has been a preeminent champion of women’s rights legislation in the United States.  For having secured the right for women to vote through her tireless work and personal sacrifice to effect the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, she then turned her attention toward achieving ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in her belief that the vote alone would not be adequate for women to be full participants in American society.  It has been modified since her original more positive version but is now the following twenty-four words in the first Section: 

Section 1:  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.

Section 2:  The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3:  This amendment shall take effect two years after the Alice Paul’s 19th date of ratification.     

After ratification of the 19th Suffrage Amendment, Alice Paul’s efforts to get another Amendment to expand rights for women – this one establishing an expression of women’s equality enshrined in our Constitution has not been as successful.  In fact, Alice Paul did not live to see the Equal Rights Amendment included in our Constitution.  A question for us to consider is whether we will all live so long to see it realized.

Over the years, many have tried to keep the ERA from passage on the grounds that it was unnecessary or even that it would be harmful.  Yet polling has suggested wider societal support for the measure than is reflected in Congressional support, the last expression of that being the failure to get Senate approval for the removal of the ERA deadline on April 27, 2023.  (The vote of 51-47 was not enough to overcome the filibuster despite a majority of Senators‘ approval.)

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Feminist Majority, Publisher of Ms. Magazine and early President of the National Organization for Women, will enrich the presentation with her vast knowledge of women’s programs as well as knowing Alice Paul and leading the fight for ERA for decades.  Nicole Vorrasi Bates, Founding Member and Executive Director of Shattering Glass, (shatteringglass.org) will share her perspective on the ongoing efforts to get the ERA in the Constitution.  We ask that all of us reflect on when we were struck with the realization that girls/women were not equal with boys/men.  For us feminists, the question is the following: “What are we going to do about it?”  Achieving the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment — to establish gender equality in our country’s governing document – will unquestionably strengthen our democracy. 

Remember to register to attend this June 20 CWI noon zoom meeting at this Registration Link