The History Behind the Equal Rights Amendment by Roberta W. Francis, Chair, era task Force, National Council of Women's Organizations



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http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/era.htm

The History Behind the Equal Rights Amendment

by Roberta W. Francis, Chair, ERA Task Force,
National Council of Women's Organizations

THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

As supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment between 1972 and 1982 lobbied, marched, rallied, petitioned, picketed, went on hunger strikes, and committed acts of civil disobedience, it is probable that many of them were not aware of their place in the long historical continuum of women’s struggle for constitutional equality in the United States. From the very beginning, the inequality of men and women under the Constitution has been an issue for advocacy.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, "In the new code of laws, remember the ladies and do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands."1 John Adams replied, "I cannot but laugh. Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems."2

The new Constitution’s promised rights were fully enjoyed only by certain white males. Women were treated according to social tradition and English common law and were denied most legal rights. In general they could not vote, own property, keep their own wages, or even have custody of their children.




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