ERA Task Force – Arizona, by Dianne Post
International Women’s Day actually started in the United States with a woman’s labor strike. That is why it has been mostly ignored here. But we have another “day.” Women’s Equality Day, August 26 – Why is it called that? Because that was the day women got the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment, but parsing the words one sees immediately that it is false. Women did not then and do not now have equality. We got the right to vote – very important and necessary – but not “equality.” Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Synonyms include fairness, equity, and egalitarianism.
Women know we get paid less, assaulted more in relationships, do more work and get less recognition, our dreams are discouraged and our hopes dashed. Laws made by male legislators seek to control everything from our thoughts to our dress to our body. But as so eloquently said by Angelou Maya, “And still I rise.”
Since the 19th Amendment passed, women have fought 95 years for equality. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) drafted by Alice Paul and introduced in 1923 was not passed out of Congress for 50 years. Many of those who fought for the 19th Amendment opposed the 14th Amendment because for the first time, it put the word “male” into the Constitution. That strengthened the argument that the rights under the Constitution did not cover women. Sure enough, that is just what Supreme Court Justice Scalia opined in 2010.
At the state legislature in Arizona the first ERA bill was defeated in committee in 1974 but was still brought to the floor to be defeated again 19-41. Year after year since then the ERA has been introduced. Most years it was not even assigned to committee. Never was it heard. In 2017, Democratic legislators tried a procedural maneuver at the end of the session to get it heard on the floor. That move failed in both houses. In 2018, not only were two ERA bills introduced by Democrats (House and Senate) but one was also introduced by two Republican women in the House. None were heard. But the battle is not over. We are still working on other ideas for this session. We encourage you all to join in that fight by signing up for our action alerts, showing up at our events at the capital, and donating money. But even when the ERA is ratified, will women have equality? We all know the answer.
So does it mean we should give up? Obviously not. We stand on the shoulders of millions of women who have worked hard and fought long for their and our rights. We stand in the way blocking the oppression of patriarchy against our daughters, granddaughters, and generations of women to come. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make us feel inferior without out consent. We do not give consent. We will be warriors to save our rights. We will battle to expand our freedom. We will teach our children justice and peace, equality and love. We will force our husbands and fathers and brothers and sons to respect all people based on humanity not sex or color. We raise one hand forward to grasp a better future and one hand back to hold on to our heritage. Thus linked and strong, we will be free.
Dianne Post is an attorney whose career has focused on fighting one of the chief causes of poverty and injustice in the world – the inequality of women – with passion, creativity and great effect.
Over the past 26 years, Ms. Post has worked in over 14 countries to design and implement fundamental legal, policy and programmatic reform on issues related to gender equality. Post works with vulnerable populations, especially women and children, in developing, transitional and developed countries to achieve their human rights and freedom from violence.
Post is a gender expert in violence against women and children including domestic violence, sex-trafficking, prostitution and pornography. She works with governments, foreign aid agencies, and other partners to create, reform or implement laws, train actors in the government and criminal justice sectors and empower vulnerable populations.