A protest organized in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash.

Lara Spijkerman

The feminist movement for equality of the genders has been a long-fought battle. Starting in the 19th century with influential historical figures such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, men and women have been fighting for equal rights for over a century. Years of hard work allowed for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which states that “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or the Senate on account of sex.” Even though women have the right to vote, women are still not seen as equal ro men under the eyes of the law.

That’s why lawmakers proposed the Equal Rights Amendment. According to the Equal Rights Amendment’s website, the ERA is “designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.” While this may seem like an easy bill to ratify, it has a long, tumultuous past. According to the Equal Rights Amendment website, the bill was first proposed in 1923, only three years after the 19th amendment was ratified. It’s now 2020, and after 97 years, this amendment has not yet been ratified.

Men at a protest holding a banner reading “Men of quality respect women’s equality.” Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash.

In 1972, the amendment passed in both the House and the Senate and was moved to the states for ratification. In order for a bill to pass, it must be ratified by 38 out of the 50 states. Congress set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979; however, former President Carter voted to move the deadline back to June 30, 1982. Since no states ratified the bill between 1979 and 1982 it’s unclear whether the deadline was actually moved back. In 2010, the ERA was revived with Nevada and Illinois ratifying the bill and bringing the number of states that have ratified to 37/50. On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Virginia became the 38th state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment.

While the United States receiving a ⅔ vote on the ratification of this bill is a momentous achievement, it’s unclear what the future holds for this bill. Since the ratification deadline has long passed, it’s possible that this 50-year struggle has all been for naught. 

With the 2020 presidential debates coming up, students should keep a lookout for what candidates think about reviving the ERA in Congress.