The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

Examines American feminism in the 1960s and the bid to include the ERA in the Constitution.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first proposed in 1923, is still not part of the U.S. Constitution. The ERA has been ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states. When three more states vote ‘yes’, the ERA might become the 28th Amendment. This paper discusses the history of this document, focusing on the role of feminists in the 1960s in advancing the ERA.
“The ERA has been a topic of great controversy since its proposal in 1921, but the reasons have changed over time (Freeman, 1988). The document was written by Alice Paul, founder of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), which served as the militant wing of the Suffrage Movement. After suffrage, Paul and her supporters decided that the next step was to remove all legal discrimination against women. They believed that this called for another federal amendment. The ERA aimed to diminish state laws that restricted women’s jury service, their rights to control their own property, contract, sue, and keep their own name and domicile if married; gave them inferior guardianship rights over children; and stigmatized them as lesser citizens.”