People

There’s a word missing from the US Constitution, and it creates inequality

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
Published
Rally At U.S. Capitol Celebrates 40th Anniversary Of Congressional Passage Of ERA WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: A woman hold up a sign as members of Congress and representatives of women's groups hold a rally to mark the 40th anniversary of congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) outside the U.S. Capitol March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a new version of the Equal Rights Amendment last year and called for it to be passed again. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It might be 2019, but equality isn’t protected in the US.

The American constitution is the guiding document for the US, but it still doesn’t enshrine equal rights for all citizens.

Which is why politicians and celebrities are campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, which calls for a guarantee of equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex, to be ratified.

The amendment was originally written by Alice Paul, head of the National Women’s Party and introduced for the first time in the early Twenties. At the time, it read: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. 

“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The current version, which was approved in 1972, has three sections, the first of which says: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

However, the amendment requires ratification by a minimum of 38 US states; by the deadline of March 22 1979, only 35 states had done so.

This week a number of moves to get the ERA ratified were announced. Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney and Republican Representative Tom Reed, who both represent New York, are sponsoring legislation to restart the ratification process. Jackie Speier, Democratic Representative for California, is behind a joint resolution that seeks to remove the deadline for ratification.

The People's State Of The Union NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 29: Patricia Arquette speaks onstage during The People's State Of The Union at Town Hall on January 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Patricia Arquette speaks at The People’s State Of The Union.

Maloney has said that women’s rights are “under attack”, and this is “happening, in part, because our constitution does not contain the word ‘women’”.

At an event this week to announce the plans, actresses Patricia Arquette and Alyssa Milano called for the ERA to be ratified.

“We have waited too long,” said Arquette. “We cannot wait another century, another decade, another year, or another month. We need constitutional protection for women.”

Milano said that equality is an “issue of basic human dignity”.

You may also like

How Scotland’s radical gender equality plans put the rest of the UK to shame

Maloney said: “We are here standing shoulder to shoulder because now is the time, this is the moment when we are going to, at long last, make women equal.

“The #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up movement, the women’s marches and the victory of 127 women to the US Congress all point to one indisputable fact: the women of this nation are demanding to not only be heard but to be listened to.

“We are demanding a seat at the table and we are ready to make equality a reality.”

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Sarah Shaffi

Recommended by Sarah Shaffi

  • Life

    The UAE is being mocked for its all-male gender equality awards ceremony

    But it’s important to remember that these sexist oversights don’t only happen in the Middle East.

    Posted by
    Moya Crockett
    Published
  • Life

    How Scotland’s radical gender equality plans put the rest of the UK to shame

    Everything you need to know about Scotland’s new proposals for tackling gender inequality.

    Posted by
    Moya Crockett
    Published
  • Life

    It’s official: attitudes towards gender equality are finally improving

    A new study is here to provide us with hope

    Posted by
    Emily Reynolds
    Published

Other people read

More from People

More from Sarah Shaffi