Gender equality discussed at Constitution Day panel
Speakers look to ERA to rally support for gender equality
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 23:10
Actress and founder of the ERA Education Project, Kamala Lopez shared information to the audience at the 2012 Constitution Day event to rally awareness around the issue of gender inequality through media, social and new media campaigns and college projects.
“96 percent of people in the United States think men and women should be equal, 91 percent think the Constitution should guarantee that right,” said Lopez. “The problem is that 72 percent of us think it does [guarantee that right].”
She represented the female activist perspective on the panel and argued that the ERA is the fundamental step to gaining equality in our country.
Her philosophy, “Equal means equal. It is that simple.” Rather than going through the political, legal, and philosophical loopholes and debates she likes to bring the conversation back to the fundament question, “do we as Americans feel that all people are equal?”
According to the numbers we do, but because we are unaware or content with the status quo all of us, women and men, are losing out. According to Kamala, for every dollar a man makes a white woman will make 77 cents, a black woman 69 cents, and a Latina 59 cents.
Lisa Baldez is a Political Science Professor at Dartmouth College and is finishing a book on the Equal Rights Act as well as The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a U.N. committee that has been ratified by 87 countries, but not by the United States.
Baldez, who sat on the panel, argued that the constitution does not protect women from discrimination against them from private individuals. She argued that the ERA would help in a lot of the issues that women face it will not guarantee a woman’s right to protection against discrimination and abuse.
She also pointed out that although in the past the 14th Amendment has been interpreted to include protection of women, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has recently said that he does not interpret it in this way. According to Scalia, the 14th Amendment does not offer any protection against discrimination to women, which makes the ratification of these initiatives even more relevant.
Both panelists stressed the importance for people to be aware and get involved, write letters to congressmen urging them to support women’s rights. They also acknowledged the importance of this election is crucial for the future of the ERA and CEDAW. In the last few years, 2,000 pieces of anti-women legislation have been brought to congress.
2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the reintroduction of the ERA and this Constitution Day was part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the UConn Women’s center.