Betty Ford, Champion of Women’s Rights

I will never forget the day in 1981 that I asked Betty Ford to be an honorary co-chair with Alan Alda of the Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign. I thought it would be a long, involved process. But she said almost immediately that she would be honored to do so.

At the time Betty Ford, the wife of former President Gerald Ford, was one of the most admired women in the United States. She also was completely unpretentious. If she could help women win full equal rights with men under the U.S. Constitution, Betty Ford wanted to give it her all.

Read the rest of “Betty Ford, champion of women’s rights” by Eleanor Smeal at CNN. com

ABOVE: Eleanor Smeal and former first lady Betty Ford appear at a 1981 countdown rally for the Equal Rights Amendment in Washington.

About

Eleanor Smeal is president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher of Ms. She appears frequently on television and radio, testifies before Congress on a wide variety of women’s issues and speaks to diverse audiences nationwide on a broad range of feminist topics. For over two decades, she has played a leading role in both national and state campaigns to win women’s rights legislation and in a number of landmark state and federal court cases for women’s rights.