Forty years ago, in 1974, there was an extremely active movement in the United States to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified so that it would become the law of the land. 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." There was a deadline looming for ratification by the states of this amendment and though I was just in high school, I was a fervent supporter of the effort. And I remember an argument I got into on the subject of equal pay for equal work with the guy who was my boyfriend back then.
Forty years later, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not become the law of the land. Despite numerous efforts, gender equality in the United States does not exist. It doesn't exist anywhere in the world.
Forty years later there are still people, like my ex boyfriend, who believe that women should not be given equal pay for equal work. (By the way, he still should be thankful that I opted to just order him out of the house rather than sew his mouth shut after he voiced that opinion. I was at Mom's sewing machine at the time and was tempted beyond measure to just take care of his idiocy with a few stitches.)
Earlier this week, the UN launched an new campaign called He For She. It's aimed at gaining gender equality throughout the world for once and for all. Because that's really what equal rights is all about. It's not just about women having the same rights as men. It's about everyone having the same rights. It's about men being able to do what they need to do for their families, for their children, without being considered 'unmanly'. It is about joining together and finally, finally, not discriminating against anyone because they are male or female. To have the same rights no matter if you are male or female. We must change the stereotypes that we define men and women by and allow each man and woman to be equal under the law. Equal access to family leave. Equal access to pay. Equal in every way.
Earlier this week, I shared a link to a video of Emma Watson making an impassioned plea at the UN for this initiative to my facebook page. Looking at my recent posts, photos of a carrot cake I baked received 15 more 'likes' than my post about this critical issue. Am I annoyed? Hell yes. This is literally a life and death issue for women around the world. Women and young girls are actively being attacked for trying to get an education in certain areas of the world. What is wrong with us when a damn cake gets more attention than an issue of human rights? We are talking about the right to vote. The right to be paid a fair and living wage. The right to an education. The right to be viewed as a human being who has value and to not have that value denigrated because of what sex you just happen to be.
Yes, I'm sure that those of you who are conservative and religious tend to think 'equal rights = feminism = abortion rights.' And you are so wrong if you think that is what this campaign is about. Because it is not. It is about treating EVERYONE with respect no matter if they are male or female and giving everyone the right to make decisions about their lives. So, I'm asking that you go to the website for this initiative and make a commitment to support this effort. Educate yourself about what this campaign is actually about. Educate yourself about the truth of what women are subjected to in terms of acts of violence against women, the lack of educational opportunities for women, the gap in pay for women and all the other issues this initiative is about.
It is time to stop the war of the sexes and create a world where our sons and daughters will treat each other with respect. No matter where they live. This is the world I want for my son, my daughters, my daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren. Give it to them and to your children and grandchildren. Give it to the world.
Here's the link: http://www.heforshe.org/