COVID-19’s impact on women has given added urgency to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution

I certainly have experienced gender inequality, mainly regarding equal pay, throughout my career as I am sure many have. However, in comparison, with the crisis of COVID, we know that stakes are much higher. The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, regardless of gender, but it clearly increases the existing inequalities because women, who comprise 70% of health care workforce globally (80% in the U.S.) including nursing and caregiving responsibilities, carry the burden. In my family in the United States, seven of my sisters and nieces have “essential worker” occupations which require close contact with customers, children or patients. None of my male relatives are in this situation. The reality for these women ranges from anxiety dealing with the daily concern for the children in their care – the preschooler who has developed an emotional attachment to his/her mask and is distraught when it can’t be found and the first grader who is clearly not adjusting well to home-schooling, but is at high risk due to the family living conditions - to the nurse who daily goes to work with the fear of catching the virus. As a long-term care worker, another niece is not recognized as an essential worker in this crisis although she is exposed to the risk. Another female family member is victim to a system where she must make the decision to go to work and take the risk of becoming ill or the risk of losing her job. And a home-schooling mother has found it necessary to take on a part-time job – due the lack of a social safety net - but does not have the option to pass on her responsibility providing for her children’s social and learning development. The pandemic has made it clear that the majority of essential workers are women and that the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities are shouldered by women and girls. The dangers these front-line workers take are increased by working under poor workplace conditions such as lower standard COVID-19 health and safety measures and low pay. In addition, in a country where health systems and medical leadership is largely controlled by men, constitutional rights for women are more urgent than ever. The fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment within the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration and during Women’s History Month is the opportunity to make constitutional history with lasting change for women’s rights and gender equality. The ERA states: “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Equality can’t wait any longer! Beverly Seebach – Colorado voter residing in Germany