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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Onward!

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex." While more progress has been made in granting women equal footing in many areas, there is still a long way to go in pay equality and career advancement opportunities. I still remember when I was in high school, I wanted to participate in a journalism program offered by Junior Achievement. I walked over to their office near Symphony Hall to enroll and I was told that I could not participate because Junior Achievement was only for boys. I have never forgotten that I was discriminated against because I was a female. Until women’s rights are included in the Constitution, there is no guarantee that women will be treated equally. Terese—Boston, Massachusetts voter currently in Germany.

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Don't let the fight for the ERA be something we pass down to future generations

While we have made what are considered great strides over the last several decades in equality for women, we still have a ways to go for women to be considered and treated equally in the eyes of law and society. So long as we have to battle for every scrap at the table we’ll never be equal. Without the ERA, we will be forced to continually fight for our rights as equal citizens. Imagine if you could take all that passion and energy and channel it into other causes - imagine the great work we could do for our country. Don’t let our granddaughters look back and say that they’re still fighting the same battle their mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers were fighting. Pass the ERA so they can look back and say that they are equal citizens because we were finally able to do this for all women in our country. Pass the ERA and solidify the rights of all women. Pam - TN voter living in Belgium

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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

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Before I die

Born in 1947, I grew up being told I could not be the president, or a doctor, or a race car driver. The only options for smart girls were teacher, nurse, or secretary - none of which I wanted to be. I was told not to raise my hand so much in class because I couldn't let the boys know I was smarter than them. At job interviews I was sexually harassed and propositioned. I became a lawyer. In 1973 my divorced sister and chief breadwinner could not get a credit card without her divorced no good husband or her father signing on. She refused. We could not own land, keep our own wages or names, or even our own children. The ERA is long overdue. I have been working on it for 50 years and plan to see it passed for the future before I die. Arizona voter

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Equal Rights for women does not mean less rights for men

Throughout history the important roles of women have been downplayed, altered or left out entirely. Until 50 years ago, women could not own property, open a bank account or get a driver’s license in their own name and/or without the permission of their father or husband. Fifty years is not a long time ago, and still women are not seen as equals under law in the US. Other countries have already taken the necessary step of granting men and women as equal under law. After World War II, Germany drew up new laws and made women equal to men. Our direct neighbor, Canada, needed quite a bit longer, but also gave women the same rights as men in 1981. It’s unbelievable that a country heralding personal liberties such as the US has still not ratified this amendment. My grandmother graduated from high school as valedictorian. She was then told to get married, not go to university. Nowadays girls are encouraged to study, yet they have to deal with gender biased hiring practices (we can’t hire you, you’re in child-bearing age), gender biased pay difference (men have to feed their families), glass ceilings, etc. I want my daughter to grow up with the possibility of becoming anything she desires. To be hired and paid based on her talent, effort and diligence. In the name of all our female ancestors who were not deemed equal, and for all our daughters entering the workforce tomorrow, I say it is high time for the ERA!  Sasha, I live in Germany and vote in CA 

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We all must keep pushing!

At its core, law is the expression of a society. It lays bare our ambitions, priorities, and boundaries as humans. It is the tangible and binding articulation of the society in which we want to live. The society I want to live in not only recognizes women and their contributions, but values them. It's one in which women aren't commanded to "shut their damn mouths and just let the men do the talking", as I was recently told. It's one where women are compensated fairly for their work. It's one in which women can "climb the ladder" as fast and obstacle-free as their male counterparts. While I don't think my vision of society is too far-fetched, it's unlikely to fully materialize without reassessing how women are (or rather aren't) recognized under United States law. Until legislators on both sides of the aisle prioritize ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, we cannot expect a culture that values women to take shape. That's why we all must keep pushing! Candice Kerestan -- Pennsylvania voter in Germany

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Support your constituents - not corporations.

The job of Congress is to represent the people of the United States, passing legislation that supports your constituents. 52% of your constituents are women. They are not insurance companies looking to raise their profits on the backs of women, they are not corporations, knowing full well that they can offer women lower salaries because the market will bear it - your constituents are people who are supporting their families through their income. They deserve to be represented fairly. Support the ERA, and support your constituents. Support the ERA, and support families. Help ensure that finally, America becomes the land of equality for all, not just a few. I live in the Czech Republic and vote in North Carolina.

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I thought we had this matter settled

Much of the 36 years that I was a professor at the University of Kentucky, I was active in the American Assocation of University Professors (AAUP). For all of that time, one of our main activities was documenting the unequal pay and other treatment of women faculty compared to men with the same qualifications, and fighting with the administration to make both more equal. Without a higher legal authority to force them to do so, it was usually impossible to get them to act. The ERA was originated during that period of the later 1900's. It was moving along well toward being fully adopted, and I'd assumed that it had been during the 20 years I've lived in Hungary. Now I'm amazed and ashamed that it hasn't, leaving the U.S. behind so many other nations in ensuring this important right. So let's do whatever has to be done to get ourselves into the 21st century in treating our women as they deserve to be treated, as equals.

Jess Weil, Kentucky voter in Hungary

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ERA: For the Dads, and Moms, and especially the kids!

My husband was able to take paternity leave - what a bond that created with him and our kids! That was something my father couldn’t have imagined. I’ve been better able to enjoy motherhood myself knowing I have a partner that can appreciate the daily demands of raising small children. Economically there are still barriers though. My husband can’t imagine asking to work part-time to have more time with the family, whereas I can’t imagine working full-time. So that has economic consequences especially on retirement savings. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but I see the ERA as a guidepost to help society and families modernize and take full advantage of all our talents regardless of our gender. And it’s a safeguard too in times of extreme political shifts that our equal rights are protected under the law. I live in Sweden and vote in Tennessee.

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Second Class Citizens No Longer

Women have been second class citizens in the United States for too long and until our rights as equals are enshrined in the Constitution we will continue to be so. Unless we are considered equal in the eyes of the law, any equality we strive for elsewhere will fall short. Systemic bias will continue to flourish and women will continue to pay the price in their lives and livelihoods . How dare the United States preach superiority to the world when half of our population's rights are still not protected under the law? My home state of Washington ratified the ERA when my mother was still in high school; how much longer must we wait? As the Silent Sentinels asked in 1917, when campaigning for the basic human right of enfranchisement as citizens of their nation: "how long must women wait for liberty?" - Rachel Vette: Washington State voter, living in Scotland.

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Improving the quality of life for everyone

I live in a country, Spain, whose constitution dates from the same year (1978) that I first marched in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. The 14th amendment of the Spanish constitution declares that all Spanish people are equal under the law, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance. It saddens me to know that what was possible in a country which was emerging from a dictatorship that had lasted decades was not possible then in the US, and that such an amendment is still necessary in the US today. In Spain women, men and society in general have benefited from the guarantees against discrimination by sex, and the same would undoubtedly be true in the US. It's time. It's past time. There's no time to waste. Jackie, voter in Washington State living in Spain

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Shaping a girl's perception of POSSIBLE

I am 61 years old, a Washington DC native living in France since college days. I recall all those moments in the 1960s and 70s when as a young girl, I saw my mother and her friends becoming empowered, heard songs like "I AM WOMAN" and learned of the fight for the ERA. I recall also the Phyllis Schafly -led struggles against ERA and the sense of confusion and oppression that produced. My working mother and all her friends were rising in confidence and power, and there was that lady arguing that they should literally put on their frilly aprons and wait for their husbands to come home. I understood, taking all this in, that there is a struggle in society between different views of what is good or bad, right or wrong. I understood, bit by bit, that what tends to give more power to more citizens to choose their life and integrate society, is on the side of good and right. For me, ERA meant that it is POSSIBLE to challenge the status quo and POSSIBLE to join society as a full-fledged citizen. These power struggles of the 70s truly formed my perceptions - even if I am by no means a revolutionary. There have been so many advances in helping more people become full citizens in our land. Let's show now, at last, that POSSIBLE is REAL, and that women of all backgrounds and creeds can step up as equals to serve and to improve our American society.

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Getting done what is right!

Finally having the ERA in the Constitution means to me finally getting done what is right. We Americans are a nation whose strength stems from our diversity. Equality is required to keep that diversity alive. The preamble of the Constitution stipulates that the People of the United States do ordain and establish the Constitution (amongst other things) to form a more perfect Union, to establish Justice and to promote Welfare. When the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman was introduced in Congress in December 1923 both strived to end legal distinctions between men and women. By doing so, they actually proposed something with an even larger significance: fulfilling the true character of the constitution by amending it, e.g. forming a more perfect Union and legally guaranteeing the same rights and the same significance to every part of said People. Almost a century later, we need to act now to seize the chance of finally adding the ERA to the constitution and stop the injustice. Daniel Hoever-Eckardt. Residing in Germany, voting in Colorado

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From Grandma's Pay Discrimination to A Protest Marcher Today – We need the ERA!

I remember well when my grandmother, a university lecturer at BYU, (with whom I was living with at the time) informed the family that she had been refused an expected pay raise, to match the raises all the men in her department had received, with the explanation that “the men had families to support.” My grandmother was, in fact, the “bread-winner” supporting our household and the one solely caring for her extended family. It puzzled me then, as a young boy, and it remains confounding to me now, how differences in hiring and compensation could be justified on the basis of sex, rather than appropriately based on competence and qualifications for one’s job.

While we, as a country, have no doubt made some progress since my grandmother was denied fair compensation based solely on her sex, there is still a prevailing premise of differences between men and women that has not yet been corrected in America and that leads to continued discrimination – both intentional and unintentional.

At a protest march a few years back, my photo was captured by a journalist and featured in Cosmopolitan Online magazine with the caption “woman holds protest poster”. I am not bothered in the least by any potential gender confusion here, but rather, I am proud to stand with all my fellow citizens in stating that we need to formally ratify and adopt the ERA to end any further forms of discrimination on the basis of sex. —Merrill Oates, Utah voter in Hungary.

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Equal Rights for American - pass the Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment levels the playing field. It would benefit men and women. The ERA would create a constitutional equality principle that would hold that we can’t have laws or government practices that discriminate on the basis of sex. And that would include laws that discriminate against men. So everyone benefits. Jim Mercereau living in Spain and voting in Florida.

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Unequal pay!

I was the CEO of multiple credit unions. During my tenure every position I took (I was a specialist for rehabilitating troubled credit unions). When I took my last position I, not only received awards and accolades for my work, but I had over 30 years experience. When I left that position with the credit union in a much more stable financial position, the credit union hired a "fresh out of college" man at a salary that was over $20,000 more per year than I was making. This happened at every credit union I worked at. I worked hard to ensure our staff was paid equally based on experience. There is definitely a disparity of pay between men and women in the same position. The justification is that a man has to provide for the family and a woman's income is considered secondary. That is not the case and should not be a consideration for salary and benefits.  Marylin, living in Hungary, voting in Washington

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#ERANow

Back in 1975 I read about Title IX in WomenSports magazine and then shared it with a friend whose love of basketball equaled mine. We were inspired to petition our local school board to provide an interscholastic basketball program for girls. Success did not guarantee a life happy-ever-after, but I sure didn't expect this year's women's Sweet Sixteen basketball teams being provided with one dumbbell set and some yoga mats and being fed what looked to me like the worst from junior high cafeteria... Such a slap in the face of these amazing athletes. So far to go, still.. ....smh, George Anna Clark, Arkansan, US-Mexican dual citizen residing in Mexico

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ERA for a young boy

When I was young, perhaps at the age of 10, I heard the term ERA for the first time. I was watching TV and people were saying some very bad things. I do not remember everything that they were saying but they probably mirrored the critics of that time in the early '70s. I was very close to my Aunt Helen. She was my favorite aunt and I think she would like knowing that I was sharing that widely if she were alive. She was so smart, fun, and a risk-taker, She took me everywhere, taught me tennis, bought me cool records, and had a Thunderbird who would not like an Aunt like that? She asked me what did you hear about the ERA? I told her what I had heard and if I even knew what it was? I did not know at the time. She said let's read it together. She took me to her desk and she pulled out a document from her top drawer. She said to read it with her. I liked reading and showing her I was a good reader so I read out loud to her. I will never forget reading the words Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. She asked me what do you think about that? I told her I thought it was great and why shouldn't everyone be treated equally? She said precisely, all people should be treated equally that is what the ERA says. My eyes still tear up when I read and hear those words because of the meaning of those words and I think of my Aunt Helen. She has been gone for many years but she was a feminist, a leader, a psychologist, and a teacher and so influential on my thinking growing up, and even today I know now that the trajectory of my life changed that day starting on that afternoon. We know all over the world that when women are able to pursue their dreams, for work, family, professional life, business, government, or at home, that communities, countries, can thrive and are safe and more stable. Men must also be part of this effort because equal rights make the lives of everyone better. My mother and my aunts were trailblazers and taught me to be courageous, curious, adventurous, and to love education to discover new things and places, and most importantly equality of rights. Helen is the one that taught me that day and that moment so many years ago, that everyone is equal. Justice must prevail and ERA needs to be added to the foundation of our Democracy. Not one more generation of women should contend with glass ceilings, unequal pay, or laws and rules that discriminate. The time is now. Daniel James, DA Chair Spain, Barcelona, ES and Vote in Arlington, VA

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In tribute to my mother and grandmother

I support the ERA in tribute to my maternal forbears. My grandmother, the daughter of immigrants, was born into a world that did not accord women the right to vote—an injustice she fought to reverse. Her daughter, my mother, a progressive thinker and self-described radical, nevertheless viewed the ERA as first proposed as unnecessary, having absorbed the legal principle from her father (a judge) that a redundant law is a bad law. She later came to realize—as we have seen demonstrated time and again—that being included by implication is not being included at all. It’s long past time to enshrine the ERA into law, for my mother and my grandmother, my sisters and nieces—and for my sons and nephew. --Rachel Eugster, living in Canada, voting in Massachusetts

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Leading the Way with the ERA

“Why do they call it ‘Apollo 11’ when we’re going to the moon, not the sun? It should be named after Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, Goddess of the moon” I asked my science teacher in front of the class. I was twelve, and puzzled how scientists could make such an obvious mistake. “Well, maybe you should write them to ask!” she replied. So I did. And they surprisingly answered. Unfortunately their generous packages the following two years were lost in the many moves we made. However I do remember their answer didn’t really stand up to my expectations. Why did they name the space program Apollo instead of Artemis? Well, I looked it up today. Abe Silverstein, who was the Director of the Space Flight Development proposed ‘Apollo’ “because it was the name of a god in ancient Greek mythology with attractive connotations and the precedent for naming manned spaceflight projects for mythological gods and heroes had been set with Mercury.” So Artemis didn’t measure up? With today’s clear vision, we know why it wasn’t called Artemis 11. Men were in leadership and women weren’t. Men were astronauts, and women weren’t. No representation, and a lack of recognition, appreciation, value and equality for women- although it was a woman, astrophysicist Katherine Johnson, who got the Apollo 11 mission successfully to the moon and back that July 1969. I understood at a young age that the patriarchy excluded women, exploited women, held them back, and were blind to their contributions and potential- which is precisely why we need the ERA. It is simply not fair, or just, when women’s efforts, excellence and equality aren’t recognized, they’re continually denied their place in history, and their value and contribution is undermined as “less than”. Without the ERA as the 28th amendment of the constitution, there is no gold standard for women. Statistics show the chance of women winning legal cases today is comparable to a coin toss, a 50-50 chance. With the ERA in the Constitution, women’s equality and protection under the law increases to 80%. It wasn’t until 1983 that NASA allowed female astronauts. And it wasn’t until 2017, low and behold, NASA started an International human spaceflight program called Artemis. Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969, Artemis in 2024. Fifty-five years later, a female spaceflight will finally get to the moon. Why did NASA choose Artemis for the name? “The name is very symbolic, because Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo, whose name was called the first lunar mission of the USA. In addition, the choice of the goddess is associated with the intention to land the first female astronaut on the Moon in 2024.” Nice recovery. Recognition, Appreciation, Value, and Equality, #RAVE, four gold standards women deserve.  Theresa, living in Italy, voting in state of Washington 

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