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 Only Job for You is a Woman's Career"

Equality is Important. I remember the first full time professional job I held, which was at a city in Southern New Mexico. My husband and I had been in New Mexico for the military, but after he got out decided to leave New Mexico and go back to the left coast where our families lived. My boss, who was unhappy we were leaving, asked why we couldn't stay in New Mexico. He asked what would keep me at the City, and I told him that as a female, nonclerical employee, I had no promotion potential and little hope of getting a decent wage. After working so hard to get a Master's degree, it seemed a pity to not use that education anywhere. He said, "Maybe you can one day become a manager for Purchasing. That department is a place that can have female managers." That sort of attitude exemplified my career and doesn't even begin to go into the disgust I felt at multiple times having to put in formal requests to get pornographic photos removed from City offices. I spent many years as the only woman at the table, representing my local municipal owned utility. I got tired of the number of times more qualified women were passed over for promotions, so that some young inexperienced man could be promoted over them. One time, as a manager in California, I entered the room as the only female there--more experienced than many of the men. I was asked to get the coffee. And yet, with all of these and many more instances, I can say I was lucky. I worked hard to get a Master's Degree and pushed constantly to get to a level in the organization where my skills could be utilized. I was able to do this, because my parents are white, college educated and encouraged me to be articulate and have a backbone. This resulted in many instances of being called a "bitch" and worse for engaging in behavior that was slightly assertive and not a submissive, shrinking violet. Not all young women and girls are so fortunate. At a minimum, they should have the legal rights to be an equal citizen, with equal access to education and jobs and equivalent pay for equivalent work. I would hope my daughter and nieces have more opportunities to be who they are, without needing to be the "pushy bitches" that women my age had to be to get ahead, get fulfilling careers and take care of their families. Joyce Kinnear (living in Panama; voting in Nevada)

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WHAT IF the ERA had passed in 1923?

When I was a little girl, the first hobby I picked up was Tawkwon-do. I was good. The boys in my dojo didn't like practicing against a girl who could rack up points on them without effort. I vividly remember my first district competition. I beat 6 boys, some taller and older than me. As I look back at pictures on that day, my hand held high by the referee, I was shy about my wins in the moment but super proud of my trophies once home safe with family. After a year of training, my mom told me one day that I needed to keep up my practice as I got older. She told me the reason she signed me up was so I would know how to protect myself. It was at that point I viewed the entire sport differently. I lost my passion to simply enjoy the rhythm of the moves, the confidence and passion from yelling my kais drained. I saw it as a chore, something I must do to fend off the world.

In my freshman year as a veterinary medicine university student I was surrounded by brilliant minds, taught by male professors with egos to match their booming voices. That shyness crept up again as I quietly watched the young men, full of confidence, match their professors wit and wisdom. It was a camaraderie I couldn't relate to at all. Half way through the term, I had a meeting with the professor. He asked me what type of medicine I wanted to practice. I told him "large, farm animal". His response, "You're too small to be successful. Those farm animals will knock you into next week." I changed my major to Elementary Education in the Spring.

My 4th year teaching, my colleague started planning for a family and shared her news with our team about the difficulties. She was attempting to time her pregnancy so the baby would be born in the summer. She wanted to spend more than 6 weeks with her newborn. This was for financial reasons but also because she wanted to breastfeed as long as possible. Single and carefree, it never crossed my mind to consider any of this. The whole conversation all seemed a little off but I didn't dwell on it.

All these moments in my life happened without the Equal Rights Amendment. If Congress decided in 1923, when the ERA was first proposed, to amend the Constitution and include women as equals, I wonder how would that have impacted my childhood, my college experience, my career, my family? If the ERA had been ratified 97 years ago, I would like to think that gender equality would have changed America so by the time I was born my mom would have simply encouraged Taekwon-do because I enjoyed it. Maybe that professor would have viewed my potential based on my mind instead of physical size. Perhaps teachers wouldn't need to plan their pregnancy around the school calendar. Ratifying the ERA means more than granting women equality under law. It is a statement to the world that America views women as equals. We must ratify the ERA now or this moment might be lost for another 97 years. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once explained, “I would like my granddaughters when they pick up the U.S. Constitution to see that … women and men are persons of equal stature. I’d like them to see that that is a basic principle of our society.”

Jamie M, Colorado voter residing in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Time for The Equal Rights Amendment to be part of the Constitution

The past year has certainly been an education for me as up until then I was one of the 85% of the US population who thought that the Equal Rights Amendment had been incorporated into the Constitution years ago! Hopefully this will be the year to finally make this the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Esta Charlene Devereux residing in the UK, voting in New York

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Time to move forward

Happy women = happy society and we in the United States need to move forward and acknowledge women's equality to men. We as women - mothers, daughters, sisters and wives - wear multiple hats. We are the caregiver, breadwinner, decisionmaker, and voter, yet we aren't recognized as equal in the US Constitution. Not only are we the glue that keeps the family together, but society and the world as a whole. Please vote to ratify the 28th Amendment and make Equal Rights a reality for all Oklahoman Women. Sharon Smillie, The Netherlands, former resident of Oklahoma.

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It's self-explanatory

The United States has for too long touted the ideals of equality, without actually practicing them. The ERA is a crucial step toward equality for all in the United States. Our charge as Americans is to work for equality and equity at home so that everyone can prosper, everyone can participate in society, and everyone can benefit. Thorin, South Carolina voter in Germany.

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I have Equal Rights in Germany but not when I'm in the U.S.

I've been an American living in Germany since 1972 and truly appreciate the democratic freedoms and standards that are protected under the German Grundgesetz or Basic Law. I fully support the ERA amendment to the US Constitution because it clearly and emphatically supports equal rights for all men and women. It is important that this amendment be enshrined in the Constitution to guard against unfair, arbitrary discriminating and biased acts and practices as well as violence against women. It would protect the equal rights of both men and women and people of gender. I am opposed to the efforts of those few states objecting to the ERA amendment based on technical questions, spurious deadline obstacles or reasons of form. It begs the question as to the motive why those states object to equal rights for all residents. Jane, living in Germany, voting in Illinois

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Women's rights are everyone's rights, including our children's

When women are afforded the same rights are men, they thrive, their families thrive, their children thrive. As a latina born in the US, I have been fortunate to have never felt the discrimination so many of my women friends have had to experience, whether they are white, black, asian, latinas like me or of other ethnicity. From being raped and abused, to being passed on for promotion, to earning less for equal jobs, women have suffered the consequences of been treated as unequal, as lesser than. It is high time that our Constitution make good on our forefather's intent that all people are created equal. Equal rights for women will have positive repercussions for families, our sons and daughters, as well as our careers, our communities, our country and our world. By passing the ERA you will be bringing light to darkness. You will be saying to your mothers, wives, daughters, granddaughters, women colleagues, friends and employees that they matter, that they count, that you see them as equal. Thank you, Carla I currently live in Guatemala and vote in Virginia.

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Justice delayed is justice denied

The story of the Equal Rights Amendment spans most of my lifetime, and its delay is a milestone in the titanic shift in American politics, away from social justice and the common good, and towards the horrifying attitudes that are sometimes called Reaganism.

Some commentators and historians see the long-fought-for end of Reaganism in the 2020 elections and the legislation passed by Democratic lawmakers over the past year at state and national levels. It would be fitting to overcome those malignant forces that opposed the ERA at last and seal the toxic landfill of backlash by adopting the ERA now. NOW! The countless women's stories of why the ERA matters -- and the efforts of those who worked so hard but passed before we reached this goal -- speak for themselves.

The persistence of unequal pay, discrimination in criminal justice, and misogynist culture in the United States tells us that we need more tools for pursuing justice and progress. The ERA is a simple, plain, and unqualified tool for the feminist project. We cannot let technicalities and cowardice keep us from this improvement to the U.S. Constitution.

Country of Residence: Luxembourg 
Voting State: Illinois

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I don't want the ERA but...

It shocks me that we have to instill women's rights in a document. How is it possible that we still need to make special laws so that people treat women equally. But as long as it is the case that I can still be paid less than my male colleagues of less experience, I am here to stand with all of you for what is right. Live in France, Vote in Connecticut

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In honor of all those who have paved the way

Growing up in a household with a mother who was an early feminist always led me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. My mother was a World War 2 veteran who served as a Lieutenant in the US Navy. She worked in a variety of positions including as a code breaker of codes in German having studied it in college. However, when she became pregnant, she was forced to resign her commission, something that still made her angry years later and she wrote about it in her personal entry at the Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery. She went on to become a business studies teacher and an active member of the League of Women Voters. I have also experienced the unequal treatment of the sexes throughout my career as an overseas teacher of English and teacher trainer. Women make up the majority of the profession and yet in many cases the schools are run by men and keynote speakers at conferences often include few women, although, due to the strong voices in the profession. this is finally beginning to change. The fact that the ERA has not yet been passed, however, is something incomprehensible. How can the concept of equal rights for all still be an issue in today's world? In memory of all those who have gone before me, I urge Congress to make the Equal Rights Amendment part of our Constitution. The passing of this bill is long overdue.  Marjorie, live in Austria, vote in New Jersey

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Let's not "make the best" out of what we know we can do Better

In 1975 North Dakota ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. At about the same time, there is a picture of my Grandmother Helen at her college graduation. In her late 50s, Helen had gone back to college to get her 4-year teaching degree. She had been a teacher all her life, from one room pioneer schoolhouses to reservations, to small North Dakota towns, she had always made the best out of her situation. Once, when offered the chance to teach a new subject, she stayed up all night sewing her first pair of trousers so she could teach phy-ed the next morning. Her innovation was recognized and in the 1960s Helen was offered a job at the state capital to create school curriculum. She was unable to get her husband’s permission to accept the offer, so Helen kept teaching locally and continued to make the best out of her situation in an over 40-year long career. Situations that women must make “the best out of” are my reason for supporting the ERA. These situations are rarely acknowledged in society and not at all in the United States’ current legal and judicial systems. Social Security, taxes, wages, pensions, domestic relations, insurance, and violence continue to be seen in a framework based only on the male experience. Women were never part of “the people” mentioned in the US Constitution and later amendments promised equal protection and voting rights only for men. There have been many attempts to make “the best out of” the current constitutional situation – and, sometimes, rulings have been interpreted to benefit women - but there are still no assurances. In my home state of North Dakota, some are arguing that the states’ ERA ratification in 1975 was a mistake; that women don’t need any additional recognition or protection under the constitution. This, while women in the North Dakota state legislature have never had more than 22% of the seats, and for each dollar a man earns, women in North Dakota earn 27 cents less. I support the Equal Rights Amendment because I want a world where women don’t have to problem-solve and make “the best out of” situations. I want a world where women in North Dakota, and America, can just BE their best.  Lives in Ukraine, votes in North Dakota

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A New Yorker for the ERA

My mother aspired to be a doctor—but as an undergraduate at Northwestern just prior to World War 2, she was discouraged, because of her gender. America lost a great doctor. However, some 70 years later, her granddaughter, graduated from Georgetown Medical School and now is a practicing child psychiatrist in Menlo Park. Progress has been made. But one pillar of that campaign for equal rights and equal opportunity—the tent pole that should be at the epicenter--is missing from our Constitution. And that is the Equal Rights Amendment. Women--and people across the gender spectrum--still face discrimination. Official recognition of our equal rights deserves to be enshrined in our nation’s founding document. During my career in New York broadcast news, I benefited from the women’s movement of the seventies, which campaigned against widespread discrimination against women in the media. Barbara Walters was hired as the first evening news anchor—and the optics required that she have at least one woman writer on the network news staff—and that was me. But at various times in my career I bumped up against overt and disguised sexism--and finally crashed out of ABC News, with a concussion from repeatedly banging my head against the glass ceiling. The USA likes to portray itself as a world leader—yet we lag behind many other nations that already have constitutional guarantees for equal rights for women. The U.S. Constitution reflects the attitudes of its era—written entirely by white, privileged men. Our founding document needs to evolve to meet the social and cultural realities of our time—and more concretely to provide essential support for litigating sex discrimination cases in the courts. Under the last administration, we witnessed an intensified backlash against the advancement of women’s rights. We must now move forward now—and the ERA amendment is a key element in the progress, for the sake of our daughters, granddaughters and young women everywhere who have so much to contribute if given a fair chance. Meredith Wheeler lives in France and votes in New York

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For my mom

This is a picture of my mom and me at the Women's March in D.C. on Jan. 21st, 2017, her 73rd birthday. We'd been planning our trip to Washington for months - thought we'd be going to watch the first woman President get sworn in. My mom has fought for women's rights her whole life, so I thought she should be there on that historic day. I still hope we'll be there, when that day finally arrives. In the meantime, I'd like her to see passage of the ERA. FINALLY. That it's taken decades to accomplish is a blemish on our country. A disgrace. If we are ever going to reach the American ideal that all are equal under the law, we can start with this one easy step, to declare that half of the country are not second-class citizens. Please extend the deadline for passage and give women the constitutionally protected equality every person deserves.  Live in Germany, Vote in Washington

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The Time Has Definitely Come!

Since studying the story of the ERA movement's history at the University of Southern Indiana, I have felt driven to contribute however I can to it's eventual addition to the US Constitution. As a white man who has always benefited from the protections that the Constitution grants me, it is my duty to be an ally and add my voice to those of everyone else who stands united demanding equality in the provision of our nation's foundational legal document. The time was then and the time is now! Indiana Voter living in Germany

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What Do We Want? Equality!- When Do Want it? NOW!

I live in Germany, but I spent most of my life in the country of my birth, the United States of America. In Germany, I have equal rights, and it has improved the quality of my life. It's taken too long for women in America to have equal rights, and it's unfair. When I was a girl, people told me I could be anything I wanted, but it's not true.

Employers can pay women less than men for the same job. The first time I realized I wasn't getting paid as much as a recently hired man, I immediately went to my boss. My boss told me the man had a family and need to make more. My family's needs were the same as his family's. Why is this okay? It is acceptable because women don't have equal rights under the Constitution, so we don't have equal protection under the law. Having women in Congress, as the Vice-President, and in other positions of "power" is a hollow victory if the average woman faces legal discrimination in so many areas of her life.

My mother, my sisters, and I have been waiting all our lives for equality under the law. There is no reason for us to keep us waiting. Equality must be enshrined in our Constitution.

Eighty-four percent of countries, including Afghanistan, Japan, and Tunisia, explicitly guarantee equality in their Constitution. It's about time American women also have equal rights.

Angela Fobbs, Florida voter, living in Germany

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For my children's future

I've recently gotten engaged, and it's made me think a lot about the kind of world that I want my children to grow up in. My mom was younger than I am now when the fight for the ERA began - I don't want my children fighting the same battles! I want them to grow up in a country where their rights are enshrined in the constitution, regardless of their gender. -Kenzie, Arizona voter living in London

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The ERA From a Veteran's Perspective

Dear Member of Congress, Federal courts have ruled that the ERA cannot be included in our great nation's Constitution because the 1982 deadline has passed. This will go up to the Supreme Court. I cannot change what the Supreme Court thinks or what it may decide to do, but what I can do is talk with you. If I can convince you to join me in my support for extending or removing the deadline, the ERA may yet become ratified as the 28th Amendment. This would be a momentous victory for women in all walks of life. Veterans like me have watched the role of women in our nation's military grow ever closer to equal standing with men. In 1917, Loretta Walsh became the first woman to join the military outside of the Nurse Corps. In 1920, women finally had their own voice in elections when the 14th Amendment was ratified. In 1947, General Dwight D. Eisenhower (later President!) commissioned Colonel Florence Blanchfield into the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel making her the first woman to ever hold permanent rank. Soon after, in 1948, Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act that made women a permanent part of the US military. In 1970, Colonel Anne May Haes became the first woman to ever hold a flag rank when she was promoted to Brigadier General. In 1976, the first women were admitted to the US Service Academies. In 1990, Commander Darlene Iskra became the first woman to command a US Naval vessel, paving the way for women to start serving on combatant ships in 1994. In 1993, Major General Jeannie Leavitt (then a Lieutenant) became the first female fighter pilot. In 2002, Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Reserve Michele S Jones became the first woman to become the enlisted head of a branch of the US military. In 2008, General Ann Dunwoody became the first woman to achieve four star rank. In 2010, the Department of the Navy authorized women to serve onboard submarines. In 2011, the first group of women checked on board. In 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on women serving in ground combat roles, paving the way for the first groups of women to enter into the infantry in 2016. Now, in 2021, we have an opportunity to add to this list of achievements made by American women: passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. With this, the role of women in American society cannot be made less than ever again. Thank you for your time and consideration, PO2 Anthony Michael Nitz, USN, Retired NC-5 Voter Living in Vietnam

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It's that simple. And long overdue!

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.“ Pretty simple. As a young girl and teenager, I remember how excited my mom, friends and I were about the ERA. NOW and Martha Griffiths were actively making progress in our name! It seemed inevitable and the right thing that the ERA would be passed and ratified. Decades later it still has yet to be fully ratified. Honestly that feels horrible and is a betrayal of all Americans, keeping over half the population down, limiting them in fully blossoming into all they can and want to be. How can that be good for the health and strength of a country? That was also the era when my mom, as many other women, signed and was known as “Mrs. Willard Jones”. Luckily that has ended (I think even in Austria). We all have the right to a personal identity as well as equal opportunities and options. It is long overdue that the basic human and civil rights are guaranteed for all. Adding the ERA as an amendment is an important part of that. I know it is what my mother, Betty, would be thrilled about and proudly boast, “we finally did it!” We = USA.  I live in Germany, vote in Colorado.

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Women Are No Longer “Asking” for Their Rights

When I was a young girl and writing my first thank-you note to an adult friend of the family for a gift she had given me, my mother taught me how to “properly” address the envelope to “Mrs. Her Husband’s Name.” What? I asked, “I am not writing to him, but to her!” That is when I learned that a married woman was worse off than me, a girl. At least I could use my name, all a married woman got was an “s”. She was invisible. When I was in high school, “Ms.” was introduced as the counterpart to “Mr.”; a woman could use her own name and keep her age and marital status as neutral as a man. At about the same time the ERA was passed in 1972. We were making progress, weren’t we? “What do we need that for?” asked one of the local (male) student movement leaders about the ERA. For all too many men, even on the left, women may not have been so invisible, but they were still irrelevant. Women are no longer invisible or irrelevant, but we are still not constitutionally protected against the persistence of unequal pay for equal work, discrimination in our judicial system, or cultural or systemic misogyny (e.g., why isn’t rape considered a hate crime?). In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, to please “remember the ladies” when drawing up the first US Constitution. Neither he nor the rest of the Framers did. Well, we are no longer polite, invisible, and irrelevant ladies asking for our rights. We are demanding them —in the Constitution. Now! Dona Geyer, a Maryland voter living in Germany (where there is an equal rights clause in the constitution)

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Can you accept someone’s decisions for you without your involvement and opinions?

It has been 97 years since the first version of the ERA was written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. Well, we have waited too long and it is about time to ratify ERA. Constitution rights for me as a woman, to all women must be the same as men.

Early this month, I was preparing for the International Women’s Day talk addressing delegates from around the globe. My topic was the Challenges faced by Women in Technology, fears and gaps and the impact on high-tech with less women’s involvement. The data I came across while preparing for the talk was astonishing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects Computer Science & Research jobs will grow 19% by 2026. The above chart indicates there are not as many women entering the workforce. We not only have a deficit in women technologists but on average a woman earns 87% of what a man earns.

Decades have passed yet the gender parity, equality seems a distant mirage. Women are still deprived to be on the critical decision-making forums resulting in widening the gender gaps. All this arises only because women do not have equal rights under the law. We must take the step forward. Equal Rights must be enshrined in our Constitution. ERA Now!

Suma Shamanna, lives in India and votes in Oregon.

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