Running Out Of Time
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
THIS COUNTRY needs the Equal Rights Amendment desperately. President Reagan--the first recent president to oppose a constitutional amendment that provides equal rights for women--has proposed removing many of the existing regulations that protect women's rights in employment, education, credit, and other areas. Although polls show a majority of Americans favor the ERA, its progress remains stalled. And administration plans prove that legislation alone will not protect women's rights, for current laws can be repealed at any time and existing laws are not adequate.
Women still make 59 cents for every dollar that men make. Women still make up the vast majority of workers employed in low-paying clerical and service jobs. The current tide of conservatism is pushing women back towards complete economic dependence. This movement has failed to realize that women's roles have changed dramatically in the last few decades: a majority of women are sole heads of households. These women must have equal opportunities to support themselves and their families.
The Harvard-Radcliffe ERA Action Team recently gained official University recognition. The organization, which will work for passage of the ERA through education efforts on campus and correspondence with federal and state legislators, is part of the final campaign for ERA ratification by the National Organization for Women (NOW).
The deadline for ratification is June 30, 1982. NOW is concentrating its final campaign for ERA passage in the 15 states where the amendment has not yet passed: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Conservative legislators and lobbyists have led a sophisticated campaign to block ratification, while the citizens who favor the ERA have remained largely silent or called the amendment a dead issue.
ERA is not dead, but time is running out. We urge students from states where the amendment has not been ratified to write to their state legislators and express support for the ERA. Moreover, Harvard students should do all they can to support the new ERA action team, including considering spending a semester or some vacation time working for passage of the amendment.
We also urge the Harvard administration and faculty to boycott any conferences or conventions held in unratified states. We should unite to make sure the United States does not continue to labor under a constitution that guarantees civil rights for only half its citizens.