Meet the Courageous Recipients of FMF’s Global Women’s Rights Awards

The 16th annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.), convened Tuesday evening in Los Angeles. This year’s awards celebrated the activism to secure final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and the bravery of both U.S. and Afghan women in the face of misogynistic laws and leadership.

The evening recognized three honorees in particular who have contributed greatly to advancing the rights of women and girls: Former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Dr. Austin Dennard, and the Bread and Roses documentary team, including director Sahra Mani.

The Arizona Abortion Fight Is a Reminder That Progress Is Not Linear

April’s U.S. political news admittedly brought many horrors—from Alabama legislators advancing a bill to define sex based on “reproductive systems,” not gender identity; to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing an Idaho ban on gender-affirming care for minors to take effect; to the Arizona Supreme Court upholding an abortion ban from 1864, which opens the door to criminalizing health providers with up to five years of prison time if they provide abortion services. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero called the ruling “a huge step backwards.”

Legal changes in the present may appear to be reversing earlier advancements, as Romero said. But advocates of equity need a better grasp of history so they are realistic about the intermittent successes of movements for social change. The fight for full gender equality is a long game.

Celebrating First Lady Betty Ford and Her Work for the Equal Rights Amendment

On Friday, April 5, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will issue a commemorative Forever stamp and hold an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Betty Ford, who served as first lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977. 

As first lady and wife of a Republican president, Betty Ford carved out a role for herself that included advocating for issues she cared about—including ratification of the ERA.

The Future of Gender Justice, Now: An Intergenerational Framework for the ERA

The Dobbs decision marked the first time in U.S. history millions of Americans lost a fundamental right. We understand the overturning of Roe v. Wade as just the beginning. Nearly half the states in the country have severely restricted or banned abortions. Escalating legislative attacks on bodily autonomy, against the LGBTQ+ community in particular, put young people in harm’s way and put schools and libraries on the frontlines. 

As young advocates in the movement for gender justice, we believe these mounting attacks demand that we imagine new paradigms for envisioning justice and intergenerational equity. The successes of other movements may provide inspiration for revolutionizing our own.

(This essay is part of “The ERA Is Essential to Democracy” Women & Democracy collection.)

State ERAs Can Protect Reproductive Rights Post-Dobbs

Pennsylvania’s highest court held in January that the state’s statutory ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion is sex discrimination under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment—the first time a state supreme court has ruled on how state ERAs impact reproductive rights since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dismantled the federal constitutional right to abortion.

This decision proves that reproductive rights have a future post-Dobbs—one firmly rooted in state-level ERAs and their untapped potential to protect and advance reproductive rights.

(This essay is part of “The ERA Is Essential to Democracy” Women & Democracy collection.)

The ERA: A New Foundation for Equality in the United States

In 21st century America, the battle for gender equality persists. In nearly a century after it was first proposed in Congress, the Equal Rights Amendment’s (ERA) simple guarantee that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” is still seen as a radical notion by some.

Yet despite opposition and obstacles, the ERA is closer than ever to enactment. Our 18th century Constitution—drafted without the inclusion of women, people of color native people or immigrants—is the most difficult to amend in the world. Yet, the ERA has met all of the Constitutional requirements for amendment set out in Article V.

(This essay is part of “The ERA Is Essential to Democracy” Women & Democracy collection.)

Why the ERA Is Needed—Even With the 14th Amendment

For years, critics have claimed that women don’t need the Equal Rights Amendment because the Supreme Court has secured women’s rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. 

At the time it was ratified in the 19th century, no one thought that the 14th Amendment protected women; its purpose was to end slavery. Thanks to pioneering lawsuits by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the 1970s, women did gain a measure of equal rights under the 14th Amendment, but lawyers know that those victories were limited.

(This essay is part of “The ERA Is Essential to Democracy” Women & Democracy collection.)