Tag Archives: Equal Rights Amendment

Equal Means Equal – Time to get serious about the ERA!

Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged

or denied on account of gender.

In recent weeks I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the theme Equal Means Equal.   Though the theme is of longer standing, I believe the local buzz was fanned by the t celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26. I must have been distracted by the start of the Great Minnesota Get-Together because, sad to say, I missed the occasion and the opportunity to learn more about this important movement. (http://www.nwhp.org/resources/commemorations/womens-equality-day)

Specifically, I missed the local screening and discussion  of Equal Means Equal sponsored by ERA Minnesota at the St. Anthony Main theater. I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. I’ve learned from attendees at the screening that ERA Minnesota not only showed the documentary, but lit the local ERA movement fire by hosting a panel that included powerful state and federal elected officials and leaders of the burgeoning Equal Means Equal movement.

No wonder there’s a buzz….

Just in case others, like me, are not up to speed on the full implication of Equal Means Equal here are some of the basics.

Equal Means Equal is a national campaign to tackle the challenge to (finally) pass the Equal Rights Amendment. The premise is that the need for a Constitutional Amendment must remain a priority.

The term Equal Means Equal is propelled and informed by leaders who have produced both a book and an award-winning documentary film that tell the compelling story:

Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment Now is the book, written by Jessica Neuwirth, published in January 2015. The book “tells the story of the legal cases that inform the need for an ERA, along with contemporary cases in which women’s rights are compromised without the protection of an ERA.”  Topics covered in the book range from pay equity to violence against women to pregnancy discrimination and other stories that underscore needs that are not yet recognized or remedied..

The companion piece to the book is the documentary by the same name. Directed by Kamala Lopez the film has received numerous awards. The documentary, which features an all-star cast including Patricia Arquette, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal and others, presents real life stories and legal cases that depict the ways in which “outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues, from workplace harassment to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, and the healthcare conglomerate to the judicial system.” Again, the thesis of the documentary is that present inadequate laws prove the compelling argument for passage of the ERA.

Needless to say, ERA Minnesota (http://www.eramn.org) can provide much more information on the book, the documentary and the Equal Means Equal campaign.

Though I’ve been slow to tune in to the buzz, I get it now and am eager to share the message!

A Mix of Modes for Commemorating Women’s Equality Day

When Representative Bela Abzug introduced the bill designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971 the emphasis was on equal opportunities for women in employment, education, childcare – and the focus was on women in the U.S.  In the four decades since the first Women’s Equality Day many American women have made progress – for many women the struggle continues.

A quick search locates an array of resource materials on the topic and on the day itself. One of the most robust is http://creativefolk.com/equalityday.html, a commercial site on which sponsored have gathered a wide range of relevant materials, music, books, videos and links to key players.

To an extent, the movement for women’s equity has expanded its focus to reflect and incorporate more global concerns. These data from US Aid express the urgency of embracing the needs of all women in the movement:

Around the world 62 million girls are not in school. Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. In the developing world, 1 in 7 girls is married before her 15th birthday, with some child brides as young as 8 or 9. Each year more than 287,000 women, 99 percent of them in developing countries, die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications.

While women make up more than 40 percent of the agriculture labor force only 3 to 20 percent are landholders. In Africa, women-owned enterprises make up as little as 10 percent of all businesses. In South Asia, that number is only 3 percent. And despite representing half the global population, women compromise less than 20 percent of the world’s legislators.

Putting women and girls on equal footing with men and boys has the power to transform every sector in which we work. (https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment)

It is with this perspective that women will gather on August 26 to commemorate the significance of the day and the movement.

Minnesota activists, representing ERAMN, will be marching in Washington, DC in support of ratification of the ERA. The four-mile march will be capped with a press conference and rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. (http://www.eramn.org/home/press-release-minnesota-activists-join-era-march-in-dc-on-womens-equality-day)

Closer to home, the Minnesota Women’s Consortium will host a Women’s Equality Day gathering from 4:00-5:30 in the Women’s Suffrage Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol. Theme of the event is “Pivoting Towards Equity: A Women’s Equality Day Conversation.” State Senator Sandy Pappas, State Representative Rena Mora and Sia Her, ED of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans will discuss how to incorporate ideas of equity into the movement for women’s equality. [NOTE: The thoughtful presentation will be topped off with complimentary ice cream sundaes, courtesy of “feminist-friendly” local business Dar’s Double Scoop — a destination landmark on North Rice Street in St. Paul.]

Members of the National Organization of Women (http://www.mnnow.org) and guests will be celebrating with a Women’s Equality Day happy hour, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Honey, 205 East Hennepin in Minneapolis.

If you can’t participate in any of these public events, take time to reflect on the words and thoughts of some noted women writers, selected for just this occasion by the editors of Mental Floss – a little of everyone, from Erica Jong to Pearl Buck to Erma Bomback (http://mentalfloss.com/article/52360/celebrating-womens-equality-day-quotes-13-influential-women-writers-sponsored­)