My friend Carol Jenkins, a board member of the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition was updating me over lunch about the current attempt to get the ERA into the U.S. Constitution.
“This is where I came in,” I said.
The renewed effort, founded in 2014, comes almost a century after suffragist leader Alice Paul drafted the ERA in 1923. The language is simple : “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”
Paul, a founder of the National Woman’s Party, was one of the few suffragist leaders who recognized that getting the right to vote in 1920–the reason we celebrate women’s equality day each August 26 – – was not the end of the fight, but merely one necessary, albeit major, victory on the path to full legal and social equality.
Many suffrage leaders declared victory after the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. They went on to other causes, but Paul realized that in a democracy, no political victory is secure without a vibrant movement to keep fighting forward. “It is incredible to me,” she said, “that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun. There is hardly a field, economic or political, in which the natural and accustomed policy is not to ignore women.”