by Linda Lombardi, Literary Manager
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
It’s been almost 100 years since women won the right to vote. Barrier after barrier has been overcome. Women run Fortune 500 companies (and award-winning theaters), win soccer championships, raise families, report the news, even run for President.
So why is it that the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed?
Written in 1923 by Alice Paul, the ERA was introduced annually in Congress until it was finally passed in 1972 and sent to the states to be ratified as the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. Only 38 states were needed and equality would be the law of the land. The seven-year time limit to ratify was later extended. But as the deadline approached – and then passed – the ERA only had 35 states on its side (just three states short of ratification).
Many were surprised when America’s #1 housewife, Erma Bombeck, came out in favor of the ERA, but she was always a staunch supporter of equality in all forms. She traveled to almost every state in the country on behalf of ERA America—on her own dime. She spoke to crowds of women just like her—and more than a few men. Women called her a “voice of sanity.”
Today, the ERA continues to be introduced for passage to every session of Congress. The 15 states that still have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
The Women’s Voices Theater Festival is celebrating women playwrights and taking unprecedented steps towards gender parity, but it is only one of the many left to take. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, with the current gender pay gap, women will not see equal pay until 2059.
Momentum is growing once more. The ERA will be part of the conversation for the 2016 presidential election. It all starts here, with you. And that’s no joke.