Why ERA is Important to Me

2021 could be the year that women’s rights are secured in the U.S. Constitution – just 245 years after white men. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is positioned to be the 28th amendment once either the Senate removes the deadline from the 1972 resolution OR the Department of Justice instructs the US Archivist to add it. The threshold of 38 states ratifying it happened in 2020 but it has been held up due to some technicalities. YOU can help promote awareness and action on the ERA. 

Would you like to tell Congress why the ERA is important to you? Here's how: Take a selfie, then add your picture and story in the textbox. You can also make a video and send in the url (just add the link in the textbox).   Your story can be up to 500 words.   If you need more words, just continue with additional posts.

 

Please include your Country of Residence, and Voting State at the end of your story.  Including your Name is optional.

We'll share these stories with Congressional allies to help them in their fight to finally add the ERA to the US Constitution. 
Please note that the stories below are all user submitted and reflect individual opinions. By sharing your story here you are consenting to sharing your story publicly both on this site and with Congress. 

Click here to read the first set of over 100 stories sent on March 25 to the Senate.

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The ERA is Above Party Politics

I grew up in Northern California in a divided and polarised household. Politics were the regular side dish and both Republicans and Democrats were at the table. I know I don’t see this issue as my mother did or as my great aunts did. Regardless of their politics, they understood how important it was to pass the ERA. But growing up, I took it for granted. Growing up around strong, assertiveI, working women, I thought the ERA was a done deal. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now, breaching sixty years old, I finally understand what my great aunt meant when she often repeated, like a mantra, that. “Women must have their own money”. Women of that generation were denied a bank account, a credit card, their own livelihood because they were not protected under the law. It’s high time women were. Please vote to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. —Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, votes in California, lives in Vienna

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It’s 2021 and Women STILL are NOT in the US Constitution #DA4ERA #ERAnow

How can it be that in 2021 that US women do not have rights guaranteed in the US Constitution? And how can it be that over 88% of all countries do but the US does not? That alone is my reason to support the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA passed in the US House and US Senate in 1972, the year I graduated from college. I remember then, as I started my career, being surprised to learn how difficult it was for a woman to get a credit card. So many things have improved during my life for women but so many more improvements are needed. I see the ERA as one way to improve equality for women in laws, rules, and hopefully also in behavior. After retiring in 2016, I thought about the next phase of my life. I have several interest areas, but I concluded that for me, devoting my time to help women win equal rights in the US Constitution was where I wanted to focus my energy. I had spent the last 10 years of my career in the humanitarian aid sector. Hunger relief was a key part of that. Having spent lots of time in Africa, I realized there was a strong connection with women’s rights and food on the table. So rather than focusing just on hunger relief, I decided that women’s rights and issues were a higher priority. And the place where I could make an impact would be in the USA. I see the ERA as an opportunity for the US to demonstrate it cares about women. That act could encourage women in other countries to push harder for more gender equity in their country. The ERA is not a silver bullet to solve all gender equity issues however the ERA lays a foundation for equity in laws and rules that hopefully spills over into people’s behaviors and beliefs. I strongly believe that women must have equal rights spelled out in the US Constitution and the ERA is the way to do just that.   Shari Temple, Residing in Germany, Voting in Texas

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I Am Ashamed

American women have been trying for almost a century to assure that they are accorded the same rights as men by inscribing such equal rights in our Constitution. And for close to 100 years, we have failed due to the refusal and fear of American men to legalize equality for over half of the population. That this is occurring in the richest Democratic country in the world makes me ashamed to be an American. We must continue our fight to get our equality enshrined in our Constitution so we can all be proud of freedom and equality for ALL!  Salli Swartz - Living in France, Voting in PA

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We've come so far and yet...

My great aunt and her sister, my grandmother, both graduated from Smith College in the 1920s. The former became a legal secretary who worked for Ohio Senator Atlee Pomerene in Washington DC and was active in numerous associations. The latter became an electrical engineer with General Electric. My mother graduated from Northwestern Nursing School and ended up building a homestead cabin singlehandedly with my dad, a structural engineer. We never talked about politics or ERA. I sincerely look forward to the day my daughter and my grand-daughter will reap the benefits of ERA! Catherine--lives in France and votes in Alaska

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Let´s cross that finish line

We have come a long way, but we still have not reached the finish line. In the United States Constitution women do not have equal rights under the law. Well over 80% of other nations do! When I tried to be an architect major at a state university in Ohio, in 1962, I was discouraged. Not because of grades but because of my sex. In 1963, my sister was denied the opportunity to complete her student teaching, when she revealed she was pregnant. A woman could not appear in front of a class “in that condition”. For my first car loan for a moderately priced car in 1967, which was repaid in 6 months, I had to find a man that would co-sign, even though I had an adequate stable income. While the situation has improved the current legal and judicial systems, often have a negative impact on women. The majority of legislators & judges that make critical decisions, have been male; thus, the male perspective & experience is the norm and not the female perspective & experience. This has affected wages, family planning access, views on violence against women and harassment, childcare options, maternity leave, promotions in the workplace, and much more. It is time women, be not just viewed as equals, but are equal under the law. We owe this to our children and grandchildren, both female & male. Christina - lives in Oslo Norway, and votes in Ohio.

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Glass Ceilings in Technology Sector

I graduated college in the 70s, just at the time when IT was taking off and pulling in lots of new female graduates. Technology was supposed to be the great equalizer because we were all, male and female, getting in on the ground floor at the infancy of this mighty new discipline. But it didn't work out that way. Today only 25% of the technology workforce is female and while there are some prominent female CEOs, I have always found the landscape of middle management in technology companies was completely male dominated. The changes we need are happening at a glacial pace! Of course, we need to get the ERA amendment ratified ASAP. But we also need pro-active programs to equalize pay, promote non-biased hiring practices and promote venture capital flow to women entrepreneurs in the tech sector. After decades of self-questioning and refashioning myself to the demands of a male dominated workplace, my only hope is that my daughter and other young women launching into the workforce now can be more genuine and spontaneous. Here's hoping they sit at conference tables with a gender balance and they have women role models and mentors to show them the ropes. Diane Sklar, France Resident, Vote in NY.

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"Women aren't equal in America? That is crazy, Mom!"

Before we set off on the Women's March here in Munich in 2019, I told my children some of the reasons behind the March and they were genuinely shocked. I agreed with them and lamented, "I can't believe we are still having to fight this fight!" I want my daughters and my son to grow up being proud to be Americans - to know that they come from a society that is truly equal for all people. In 2021, sadly this is still not reality for so many. We have so far to go with gender and race equality in the United States that sometimes it can feel overwhelming, but the ERA is our best tool to ensure women's equality is protected by law and we have to fight for it. The last four years of (non)leadership within America has demonstrated the ever present obstacle of misogyny and how important it is to have women's rights protected and enshrined in law. Achievements have been made and there is no doubt that Vice-President Harris is a role model for all Americans, but her extraordinary position is exactly why we need the ERA now. Let's get to the point where a woman in a leadership role isn't extraordinary, it is just the norm.   Germany Resident, PA voter

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How is this not done yet?

When I sat in my civics class as a freshman in high school studying for my US constitution test it never occurred to me to ask if women were recognised under the US Constitution. I wrongly assumed that the use of the word "men" in the text was just the way people wrote official documents in the 18th century. When I learned in my 30s that the founding fathers purposely excluded women and that efforts in the 20th century to fix this anachronism failed I was shocked. It is even more shocking that the Equal Rights Amendment which will women to the Constitution is struggling in the 21st century. Now I hope that when my child learns about the US Constitution in a few years the fact the ERA took so long to come into effect will be an odd bit a trivia and not a cause she has to take up. Jillian Mertsch, resident of Belgium votes in Missouri.

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Glass Ceilings

We need the ERA to guarantee protection of women's rights because we are still underrepresented in the government, as well as many other fields that still have glass ceilings.  Germany resident / Arkansas voter

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We Need To Practice What We Preach

"We support women and girls in elected office." "We support women and girls getting paid the same as men in professional sports." "We support women and girls in S.T.E.M.M. [science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine] fields."  ...All too often we hear these phrases, but without a constitutional guarantee that the United States practices what it preaches and indeed protects, supports, and encourages women and girls to thrive in American society, the current practice of sex discrimination will continue to make an appearance in America's schools, board rooms, military bases, sports fields, and everywhere in between. It is unconscionable that in the 21st century women are still often told things like they're not allowed to breastfeed in public, they're not "tough enough" to do traditionally-men's roles in the Armed Forces, and "because they dressed like that, they had it coming." It is time for policymakers to walk the walk and defend women by passing the Equal Rights Amendment and taking one step further to realizing true equality among American citizens. As an American who has spent enormous time living and traveling abroad, I have seen first-hand what equality looks like and what it certainly doesn't look like in various parts of the world. The United States needs to step up and be the democratic role model its citizens and others look for it to be. #EqualRightsAmendmentNow! -Michael Ramos, Democrats Abroad, Resident of Australia and Absentee Voter in Illinois

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Long past due #ERAnow

Both my children, my daughter and my son, deserve an America in which equality is made explicit in law - gender, racial, etc. The promises made to me in school, as a women, were not delivered on in the workplace. It is long past time to follow through on the promises we make to girls and boys - that pay equity will be achieved, that violence against women will addressed, that women are fundamentally believed to be equal to men. Lives in China, Votes in Michigan

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Turning the Question Around

Well-meaning people sometimes wonder why an ERA is still needed in this world where our Vice-President is a woman, women are CEOs and the US Women's Soccer Team is the best in the world... but it's needed exactly because of well-meaning people - who never intend to discriminate. In today's world, most (but unfortunately not all) discrimination or forms of violence go unrecognized because they're interwoven into notions of "that's the way things are". The ERA is needed because it would turn the question around. As an article published by NOW states: "[it] would ....shift the burden of proof to the party accused of discrimination. Without a constitutional amendment clarifying women’s legal standing, women will continue to have to wage extended, costly and challenging political and legal battles for equal rights." https://now.org/resource/is-the-equal-rights-amendment-relevant-in-the-21st-century/ Gail Fagen, Italy, Iowa Voter

 

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For my children

Equality is a truth, and I am ashamed that the United States of American doesn't formally recognize that truth in the U.S. Constitution. By making the ERA a law of the land, we would send the message that equality is indeed an inalienable right, and not just a promise that can be easily broken or manipulated. Every day, in some form or another, I have conversations with my children about equality, and it is so shocking to me that equality is not formally protected in the U.S. Equal rights are important to me because I am a parent, and I don't just want the ideals of equality coming from me, but I want those ideals supported by my home country; the country of my citizenship. Stayce Camparo, residing in Germany, voting in Kansas

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This Picture Still Awes Me

I was born in 1968 in Detroit, Michigan and I grew up with a single mom and two sisters in San Francisco, California. My mother and her friends fought hard in the 1970s to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed, an effort that unfortunately failed. In our home, we had a powerful poster of a woman with dark black hair dressed like Uncle Sam and pointing her finger at the viewer with a simple message: ERA. I remember looking at this determined woman with awe as a child and the image is something that has followed my sisters and me into adulthood and is hung proudly in my mother’s living room in San Mateo to this day. It is an aspirational message that has yet to become a reality. When I hear the words “All men are created equal,” the inspiring words of the Declaration of Independence, the phrase now strikes me as antiquated. Language matters and leaving women’s rights out of the equation is a reflection of the lack of opportunity and protection under the law that members of our gender have experienced for centuries. It would mean a lot to my mother, my sisters, and me to finally see the ERA become part of the US Constitution so that women and men are equally recognized in the inspiring words of freedom and liberty. For us and many other women in the United States, full recognition of equal rights under the law regardless of gender has been a long time coming. I certainly hope more generations of American women do not have to wait much longer to be able to recognize themselves in the pages ofa founding document of our nation. By Amy Glover in Mexico City. Vote in Maryland. Photo of Carole Drake (76), Molly Glover Gallatin (50), and Kendall Gallatin (15) in California

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"Awakening"

The question I asked myself is “why wasn’t I interested in the ERA until relatively recently?” When I married in 1968 – and what a year that was – I was settling into life with my husband and working fulltime. Having my first child in December 1970, and a second 20 months later, didn’t leave much free time. While I was aware peripherally of what was going on nationwide – after all newspapers and television were a source of current information – it didn’t enter my head to engage with anything political or that would involve activism on my part. It wasn’t part of who I was. After 36 years in the US I moved back to the UK where I had been born and educated. As a dual citizen who identified, and still does, as an American, I wanted to stay connected with Americans and given that I had been voting as a Democrat, I became a member of Democrats Abroad UK. Then 2016/2017 happened! I joined and became an active participant in DAUK’s Women’s Caucus, and began to find areas in which I felt I could help to make a difference – the ERA being one of those. I was completely uneducated in this area, was unaware that the ERA had not been ratified, that 85% of all countries worldwide have the ERA in their constitutions yet the USA does not. My awakening has been gradual, but the more that I learned, and realized how little I knew, the more incensed I became that rights that women in the UK take for granted are denied women in the USA – • In Alan Alda’s words – “A woman doesn’t get a discount at the butcher shop for being a woman, but she sure as hell gets a discount in her paycheck for being a woman”. Now that I’ve been ‘awakened’, I want all Americans to know that although 38 States have ratified the ERA, it is still in limbo. The expired deadline is used as the reason for not acknowledging VA as the 38th State and therefore not making this amendment to the constitution official. Each one of us, even one as uneducated as I was about the ERA and who has been a non-activist, can write letters and postcards, email, call elected officials at the Federal, State, and local levels. Inform your local television and radio stations, and newspapers about the ERA and ask them to support removal of the 1982 deadline. And don’t forget that 12 States have not yet ratified the ERA! So, if I was to be asked today “Do you support ratification of the ERA?” my answer would be “You’re darn right I do!” Jessica Neuwirth said, “The text of the Equal Rights Amendment is 24 words: ‘Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on the account of sex.’ You just feel like, Well who could be against that?” Sylvia Wallach Squire – London resident, voting in NC

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We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

Attending a women's college, which only 2% of American women do, was both empowering and deeply sobering. As part of a community in which women were unapologetically centered, I learned how far from the center we normally reside. There is a reason why 20% of women who serve in Congress, along with 30% of women business leaders, graduated from all-female institutions of higher education. If we want progress, we have to create the legal foundation for its emergence. I have two sons, and I believe that not only their rights, but their potential to experience their full humanity continues to be constricted in a world that both overtly and subtly enshrines men as the standard-bearers of power and authority. I want the ERA for them as much as I do for my beloved goddaughters and nieces. We must demand our rights. No one is going to give them to us unless we insist and persist. I am in this fight with everyone who wants to live in a world where equality is not simply a "norm" half-heartedly enforced, but enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. It's past time. Teresa Ritterhoff, residing in Germany, voting in Illinois

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How is NOT acknowledging and protecting womens' equality still a thing?

I was born to a working mom in 1957, and she raised me to believe I could do anything. When I applied (age 15, fully qualified ) to a traditionally all-male Ivy League university, the ancient alumnus interviewer had no interest in learning about me, only in telling me how inappropriate I was and how much of a burden "protecting me" from my older male classmates would be for the institution in loco parentis, and the possible legal exposure. They admitted half a dozen young men my age or younger to that class. I went to Bryn Mawr instead, with plenty of honors. My Ivy League law school? Two different professors let me know I was taking up space and wasting training that a man with a family to support needed, as I was a mere dabbler who would likely quit as soon as she married and had babies. First non-student job with the Federal government, Carter administration? One of 23 attorneys in the office, 4 of us female and under 30, carrying the same workload as Mad Men-era male colleagues, at least with the same pay, but not with the same mentoring and opportunity for professional advancement. Etcetera. Fast forward 40 years, skipping over dozens of other experiences with institutionalized sex discrimination, and I still believe I can do anything. Include VOTE and PAY TAXES. Why doesn't my country acknowledge me and accord me equal status in all things? Canada/Pennsylvania

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This inequality makes me feel ashamed to be an American.

During the past 100 years American women have been trying to gain assurance that the Constitution assures them the same rights as men. The fear of American men to legalize equality for women has been blocking this amendment from being passed. The fact that this inequality still exists in the richest Democratic country in the world, and not in 88% of the countries, makes me feel ashamed to be an American. Women and men would gain significantly from passing the ERA. We all must dedicate ourselves to this fight until equality is enshrined in our Constitution.   Bob Gould - UK resident, voting in CA

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The ERA is important to me because my family is important to me

Most of us want to think of ourselves as thoughtful, compassionate persons, even when it concerns more than just our immediate families. Our religions and our ethical learnings point us there. But our families are special to us. Mine is to me, including the women -- my wife, sisters, sisters in law, daughter, granddaughter, nieces... I'm determined that they be treated with equal respect by the law and by society at large, and that this CANNOT be taken away from them. That's why I support the ERA: because no one, NO ONE, should be able to treat women with anything less than the full human rights they deserve.  Peter Kaiser - Lives in Switzerland, Votes in MA

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Womens Rights are Human Rights

Women's rights are human rights. I shouldn't have to rely on the goodwill of a manager to find out that I am getting paid less than my less-qualified male coworker. I shouldn't have to worry that my access to medical can be abridged or denied based on my gender. I shouldn't have to do a lot of things, just because of my gender. But I do. The least the government can do to protect us is enshrine our rights. Erin Watson, Lives in Republic of Korea, Votes in New Mexico.

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