It’s Been Nearly 100 Years Since the 19th Amendment Gave Us Equal Rights, Now What?

It’s 2019. Our country has come a long way since the founding fathers sat in a stuffy hall in Philadelphia in 1787. We are now sitting at the top of the international economy, we have abolished slavery, championed civil rights, granted women the right to vote, started a gender revolution, the #MeToo movement and as of right now, we have the most diverse Congress we’ve ever seen.

While we’ve come so far in our historical span of 300 years or so, discrimination still persists in nearly every aspect of society, based on age, race, and gender. “Woman” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution and the only piece of legislation that even guarantees any sort of equality between genders is the 19th amendment, granting all citizens the right to vote.

However, shortly after its passing, women’s rights activists began pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment that states: “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” This would provide equal protection from discrimination under the law to all people and a stronger defense against the rollback of women’s rights.

The real push for the amendment occurred during the 1970s and 1980s when Congress passed it on to be ratified by the states in 1972. However, with a ten-year deadline, they fell short three states for necessary ratification—a three-fourths majority. 

From the moment young girls are born, they are told that “the sky's the limit” and “they can do anything they put their minds to.” But based off the Constitution, we have an implied equal status to men, one that can easily be overturned a few generations from now and we will find ourselves living in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian nightmare.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, having a record number of women in Congress and many many more announcing their run for the 2020 presidential election, we are living in a new era that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton could not fathom possible, yet there is still a long way to go before we reach true equality.

The ERA would ensure that all people regardless of their gender would be equal, and women would no longer have to prove that they deserve the same full rights as their male counterparts. Without the ERA, past judicial and political women’s right success could be reversed or dissolve, letting 200+ years of fighting go down the drain.

We need this now more than ever to protect the rights of everyone, for generations to come; if we don’t can we really call ourselves the land of the free if fundamental human rights are stripped from half the population?


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