The continuous fight for gender equality

From left, moderator L. Joy Williams, with panelists Kate Shaw, Christian F. Nunes, and Carolyn B. Maloney.
Photo by Milette Millington

On Nov. 14, politicians and activists discussed the status of the push for gender equality in the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), during a conversation hosted by the New York Public Library (NYPL), moderated by L. Joy Williams.

Williams is president of the Brooklyn branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Panelists were Hon. Carolyn B. Maloney, Christian F. Nunes, and Kate Shaw.

Maloney was the former U.S. Representative (NY, 12th district). Nunes is the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Shaw is professor of law and the co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The ERA, if it passes in Congress, will guarantee legal gender equality for women and men. The amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1923. Shaw explained some of the history of it in her remarks.

“You can think about 1848 in Seneca Falls as actually the origin site and moment,” Shaw said, referencing the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

Another reference Shaw made in her remarks was to the drafting of ratification of the 14th amendment, which granted citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved people, and provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws,” according to the U.S. Senate website.

In her remarks, Nunes shared details on the history of NOW, founded in 1966, and  fighting for the amendment to pass.

“We adopted a resolution to actually push the Equal Rights Amendment forward, um, and that is because we really truly believe in constitutional equality and the right for women to be considered equal and to have their rights,” stated Nunes.

Maloney then shared how she has pushed for the amendment to pass in Congress.

“I can tell you, my entire life in the City Council and in Congress, I’ve worked for the Equal Rights Amendment. I can honestly say we have never been closer in my lifetime towards achieving this goal,” she stated.

Maloney added that when she was leaving Congress, she spent her last three weeks circulating a petition to all of her colleagues. As a result, she got 150 signatures, and a meeting with Senator Schumer, in which she asked him to immediately schedule a vote and hearing on it.

Maloney introduced the amendment in Congress in February 2021. “It’s never been more important because rights that we thought we had are being taken away, and they’ll take more if we don’t fight and push back,” she continued.

Those who are interested can find out more about the ERA and its ratification here: