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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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"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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Enough is enough

Here's a picture of my kids. They're standard teenagers. Yet one of these young people will have a much easier time throughout life simply because he was born male. Statistically, he will not have to work as hard to get better grades, he will find it easier to get a bank loan, he will be invited to more job interviews and be more succesful getting a high-paying job, then be assigned a mentor who will ensure he optimises his career. He will never have to make a decision ":kids or career", he can have it all. And all that without the ever-present fear of being attacked by a boyfriend or a stranger, of having his drink spiked, of being visciously mocked online (and brutally IRL) if he dares to insist on his space, his time, his voice. Why should he be entitled to an easier life , a better-paying career, more standing in society than his sisters? WHY?? I say enough is enough: American girls and women deserve to be treated EQUALLY, and if society can't manage to do that on its own, then we need the law to do it for us. Country of Residence: Belgium Voting state: New York 

PS I love all my kids equally!

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It’s Been Too Long Coming, But a Change Needs to Come!

I was very active during the 1960s in the Civil Rights movement, and I can say that for most of my life I have been fighting for my Civil Rights. I am a Black man who has always thought myself to be well informed and very current on Civil Rights matters. It was not until 2019 that I first began to understand what the ERA was really all about, when a Democrats Abroad colleague explain the issue in a manner that it all registered for me. I had heard of the Equal Rights Amendment, but I had never thought of it as Civil Rights Legislation, again because I really did not know what it was all about. Little did I know that women had not been granted equal protection under the law in the U.S. Constitution. My mother and grandmothers were some of the strongest women that I have ever known, and if anybody deserved equal protection under the law, they did. Most women that I have encountered in my lifetime were probably more deserving of those protections than most men that I know. Who would be against such an amendment passing? I really don’t begin to understand what the opposition would have been in the past, nor what it is today to this amendment. This is a fundamental Human Rights! I understand the procedural hurdle of 38 states not having ratified the document in ten years, but why is that timeline sacred? Just drop the ten-year requirement! This is very important, and we have to get this done. One hundred years to make this happen, come on we should be better than that! Please let’s make this a reality now! My name is Robert Scott, I vote in Texas, and I’m currently living in Germany.

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Hoosier pride calls us to continue the fight for ERA

My home state of Indiana became the 35th and last state to ratify the ERA on January 18, 1977. Since then it has stalled. Just two years ago, Hoosiers marked the passing of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. Bayh considered his authorship of Title IX of the Higher Education Act, guaranteeing women equal access to educational and athletic programs as among his greatest achievements. It´s how he met his wife Marvella, who was denied admission to the University of Virginia solely based on her gender. In 1972 just out of the Navy, I was admitted to Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles where my class was the first anywhere to admit as many women as men. What a gift at the time and looking back! I´ve never underestimated women as colleagues or professional adversaries. Today, I have a daughter who is a lawyer and law professor. My granddaughter is finishing her first year at Purdue. Yet both of them continue to face needless obstacles. These could be removed with passage of the ERA. Is there any possible reason NOT to make equal rights for women the law of the land? They´ve long done so in Norway, the country of my residence since 2014. Everyone benefits, especially we men! Could not the state in which I still proudly register and vote, my Indiana, not continue to make it a reality? Respectfully, Andrew J. Stites, registered Indiana voter residing permanently in Norway since 2014.

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A moral marker for who we are

Growing up as the son of a single mom, I can recall a number of moments when she openly and publicly challenged what she perceived to be unjustified inequality in how she was treated based on the mere fact that she was a woman. These ranged from manifest restrictions in certain religious contexts to more systematic gaps in society at large. I don't know if she meant it to be so overt, but these are some of the earliest moral lessons she passed on to her son. Looking back, and reflecting on how she and I have grown since then, I can say that she showed me that equality for women is a powerful issue that transcends political boundaries.

As a man, I believe that we need the Equal Rights Act because we it is clear to me that the steps the US has taken to ensure that American women are legally equal to men are far from enough. It is not enough that women are able to vote (enshrined in the 19th Amendment). (This kind of thinking was first taken up first at local and state levels before it became part of the Constitution. The early examples set by Wyoming and Utah towards equal voting rights for women show that this issue is one that cuts across political boundaries.) It is not enough that the private sector tries, in its own way, to correct for these problems. We need to take this issue up at the highest level: the Constitution. Our Constitution is our moral core. Amendments to it are aspirational markers for who we are and what we want to be as a country. Some of them are may appear to be technicalities, or merely define terms in a previously undefined space. Other amendments have a more obvious moral aspect to them. The Bill of Rights, for instance, and the amendments passed in the wake of the Civil War, as well as the 19th Amendment, make our moral backbone most most clearly visible. But we are not there yet.

A man with any moral sense and honesty can see this gap. He should acknowledge our moral blind spot, and those in positions of power should understood their power to make a difference. The fact that our Constitution is open to amendment is a recognition that it is incomplete. America changes, and with it so should our Constitution. For my mother, my wife, and my daughters, I want to see the ERA become the next amendment. I want it for all American women who are limited in ways that I can see, and especially for the ways that I don't, or can't. Please do you part to lay down a moral marker that says that equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged anywhere in the US on account of sex.  Lives in Germany, votes in California

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“the rising of the women is the rising of the race”

I try to be a MENSCH … a good person. It isn’t easy, especially alone. In my Jewish Tradition, there have been women, Rebecca, Miriam, Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Judith, etc., that overcame, not only threats to our people, but our own patriarchy that added an extra level of difficulties to help all the Jews. Our world has so many problems to solve, and we need all-hands-on-deck to try and solve them. But we need to un-tether ALL these hands, because only free hands can accomplish all we have to do. Add to that the beauty of creation in this world, art, music, … Hindering these creative women … & men just lessens our lives. The song says, “the rising of the women is the rising of the race”.   Living in Germany, Voting in NY

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No illusions - but it's long past time for the ERA

I don't have any illusions that passing the ERA will magically bring gender equality to the US. I don't believe passing the ERA will suddenly fix the systemic inequalities and racism that Black women and women of color face every day. But there is no reason for the U.S. Constitution not to prohibit sex-based discrimination. It says a lot about the United States that it doesn't already. All I need to do is look at who opposes the ERA, and why, to understand why the ERA is necessary - but not sufficient - to bring down the patriarchal system that has held women, and especially women of color, back for centuries. I owe a lot to the women who came before me and fought for the ERA, and I owe it to the women around me now to make equal rights more than a slogan, but an inclusive movement that touches every aspect of our lives. --Naomi (I live in Norway and vote (proudly) in New Jersey.)

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Equality for My Heroes

Most of my heroes are women. My mother, an artist and writer, possesses the most adventurous, curious and brilliant mind I've ever known and inspires me unendingly as I travel through life. My wife, a professional violist, is easily one of the boldest, most exciting musicians I've had the pleasure to hear perform live; she gives me the drive to achieve my best in my own musical career. Among those who influence me from afar are the likes of Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Cara Santa Maria. Women have had an unequal effect on the person I am today, and it's high time they are no longer treated unequally in our otherwise modern country. Equal treatment is the least we can ask for and we should settle for no less. Let us delay no longer. Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment immediately! Oklahoma voter, German resident.

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The ERA Is Needed More Than Ever in 2021!

In September 1966, I started college at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, only learning there was a quota in place (8 males/1 female) when I got there. Four years later there were still quotas at law schools.  I did get in (in a class of 200 men and 25 women), faced discrimination when job-hunting and found the time-honored solution of work in the federal government.  Living in New York City, Bella Abzug was my Congresswoman and the second wave of the feminist movement was in full swing.  Naively I believed the tide was turning and, in fact, I benefitted from other women’s battles:  Chase Manhattan Bank had been sued for sex discrimination in the early ‘70’s and reached a settlement, so I was welcomed with open arms when I applied in London in 1977. 

Good assignments and promotions came in line with my male colleagues until I returned to work after my first child and a three-month maternity leave.  My boss called me into his office, said he was glad to have me back, but I was not going to get a pay review due in the next month.  He wanted to see at least six months’ performance as confirmation that I was still “committed” to my job.  I loved the job, was fortunate to have a healthy baby, a supportive husband and an excellent nanny, so I “put up and shut up.” 

Later in my financial career there were more instances of discrimination in both pay and promotion, but the work was engaging and I conveniently bought into the story that women were moving towards pay equality and into leadership positions.  Fast forward to 2021 and the global gender data shows equality has not happened anywhere in the world. 

Even worse, the Covid pandemic has brought into sharp relief the expectation that women will sacrifice their work and careers to pick up the unpaid burden of caring for children and older relations.  In the United States this is aggravated by the failure to provide adequate child and elder care.  Many women are paying the well-documented “motherhood penalty”, where employers tend to deny women pay increases, promotions, and  important assignments, and single them out for cutbacks and layoffs.   

The ERA is critical as the legal basis to continue the fight for gender equality. Moving toward parity in leadership will also help end a culture of systemic misogyny, where some men (too many of those in power) continue to belittle women’s contribution to economic prosperity and well-being.   Data now shows that, as richer countries improve women’s status on the scale towards economic equality, their increased contribution significantly improves the countries’ economic growth and well-being.  I will reiterate:  there is no country yet where women have gender pay parity.  This is strong evidence that this inequality is systemic.  For American women the barriers are formidable, and the timing is critical as the pandemic ends: the ERA will give substantial legal support to the case for parity as women return to the American workforce in the next 12 – 18 months.    WE NEED THE ERA NOW!!!  

Carol Moore, live in London, vote in Florida.

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The Equal Rights Act is long overdue - now is the time!

The ERA was a hot topic when I was in high school in the 1970s. One of my friends claimed that the ERA would give men the right to use women's bathrooms. Women would be at risk. Where did my friend get this? At church. A scare tactic to drum up opposition to equal rights for all. Some things never change: we're hearing the same fear mongering today to justify laws that bar transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Equality is about improving lives. It’s nothing to be afraid of. The best way to protect girls and women is to guarantee us equal rights under the US Constitution. Martha, a California voter living in the Netherlands

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Vote to Ratify the ERA Now; Waiting 97 Years Should Embarrass Us

I recently looked through my high school yearbook Class of '62 and was struck by the fact that all my female classmates limited their hoped-for future occupations to teacher, nurse, beautician, or secretary: no lawyers, doctors, engineers or US Presidents. In college, I remember hearing from female classmates that some of the faculty were discouraging them from going to graduate school because they would be taking the place of a man who might then be drafted and sent to Viet Nam. Some recent news, such as the election of our first female Vice-President can be seen as grounds for optimism. Yet women still need to pass niceness tests and glass ceilings are all too real. Enough! We need the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the Constitution to help us validate the beliefs that motivated our founders to declare us an independent nation. I urge my Senators to support and vote for SJRes1 to eliminate deadline for ERA validation. Resides in France; Votes in Massachusetts

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Strong women

I am a 52 year old male who was raised by a strong mother who worked harder than anyone I know to raise and provide for her four children. My father's wage at a northern Wisconsin paper factory wasn't nearly enough to support our family, and my mother had an office job requiring many more skills and a higher level of education than my my father's job. Nevertheless, she only earned about half of what my dad did. If the ERA had been passed decades ago, our struggling middle class family could have had a level of prosperity more reflective of the level of the work ethic and skills my mother brought into her work. Women have been the backbone of American families, providing for their children by working inside and outside of the home. It is an abomination that women still don't have complete equality in the US, and it is high time that all people in power step up to ratify the ERA.  Living in Germany, Voting in Wisconsin

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All Women Deserve Equal Rights — Especially Single Mothers

Why is the ERA important to me? Well, in America, nearly 60% of poor children are living in single-mother families. I‘m married ,and my children have never experienced poverty. But I can‘t say that for too many kids in America. I‘ve lived in western Europe for nearly 3 decades, and other countries take steps to keep most children out of poverty. America does not, and one reason has to do with the gender pay gap. When the Equal Pay Act was passed during the Kennedy Administration, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gender gap has persisted — it’s nearly 60 years later, and women now earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by men, and lower if the woman is non-white. Many of these women are mothers, and this pay gap contributes to impoverishing their children. An Equal Rights Amendment will give working mothers the legal recourse to end this practice. Rights eclipse legislation, because while politicians can change laws with a majority vote, they cannot change rights. Passing the ERA won‘t change practices overnight, but women can begin the process of establishing symmetry in the workforce. It‘s important to me to end child poverty, and giving working mothers the legal standing to demand fair wages is one tool to fix that. Tanya Lolonis Residing in Austria, voting in California

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