ERA: historical curiosity or needed weapon against bias today?

Original Reporting | By Abby Ferla |

Smeal believes that this unawareness exists about most feminist issues today. “A lot of people would be shocked if they knew that these things were still legal and still happening. I think most people would be shocked if they knew that women paid more for health insurance. I think people would be shocked if they knew that Title VII was in trouble after the last Walmart case [which restricted the ability to bring nationwide class action lawsuits alleging gender-based discrimination]. We’re in hand-to-hand combat over these laws… but people don’t know.”

“You don’t hear anything about these things, because too much of the media thinks it’s dead,” echoes Egozcue. “I have a friend that lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. and talked to the St. Pete Times, and the St. Pete Times is a very liberal paper, but even there the editor told her that it’s dead; no one cares about it anymore.”

And this is what most advocates agree would need to change in order to finally ratify the amendment: first, people would need to know that the ERA was still viable and that people were still fighting for it. Second, they would need to understand that, while there has been significant progress in the area of women’s rights in the past couple decades, there is still a long way to go.

Advocates remain confident that this guarantee will come, if slowly. Though most believe that ratification is not a possibility in the current political climate, they’re convinced that the ERA will someday be part of the constitution. “Is ERA relevant? Absolutely. Is it needed? Absolutely. Will it happen? Yes, it will. I just hope I live to see it,” Smeal says.

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