ATHENS, GREECE – When Virginia’s General Assembly opens their new session on January 9, it will be celebrating the 400th year of legislative deliberation in the state and former colony of Virginia. It will also come under heavy pressure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) and other DA country committees around the world will be among the strong voices urging its approval.
This amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Senate in 1972. After an initial rush by over 30 state legislatures, approval fell several states short of the 38 (3/4) required to make it part of the bedrock “law of the land.”
Recent renewed attention to women’s rights has revived the effort. In the past two years, Nevada and Illinois brought the total of U.S. States that had ratified the amendment to 37.
Just one more state is needed, and Virginia looks the most likely among those that have not yet ratified. “I’m excited for my state to be the one to put the cherry on the cake!” said Virginia voter Charity Moschopoulos of Athens. “It is a good feeling to be from one of the 13 original states, home to Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and other founders of the USA, and now the state that will finish this important work.”
The call for “Equal Rights Under the Law” has been taken up by many of the women who will be participating in the Women’s Marches around the world later this month. To move the ratification along, DA’s Global Women’s Caucus suggests women in the marches will do well to focus on the ERA.
Now in its third year, the Women’s March began as a U.S.-centered protest against President Trump’s policies and, in particular, his derogatory statements about women. It expanded last year to include issues shared by women and their families around the world. This year, with even more women of different countries and backgrounds coming together, the March offers the opportunity for dialogue about common problems women face and how we can work together to solve them.
“This will, we hope, encourage Greek women and women from other countries living here to come forward and share the efforts they’re making,” said Jai Salvador, a key Athens March organizer for the second year running. “It’s come a long way past our 2017 outrage. We each have different, but related problem we are able to learn from each other and work together for better women’s lives everywhere—in countries where women have equal rights under their constitutions and in countries where they still don’t.”
Support for the ERA comes from across the spectrum of USA voters, women in particular, and ratification has been a long time coming. As DAGR Chair Karen Lee explained, “It’s one of my favorite examples of what it takes for success in politics. Perseverance!”
She continued, “Women’s rights advocacy sprang up in Europe in the early 19th century. In the U.S., parallel to the anti-slavery struggle, freed Black men won the right to vote before any woman of any race. It was not until some 50 years later, in 1920, that American women were granted the vote and an amendment was suggested. Another 50 years saw passage of the ERA through Congress. Now, after yet another 50 years, it may finally become law. THAT’s what it takes to bring about lasting change!”
In the last 50 years, many gender inequities in the U.S. have been settled through individual laws. Women no longer require a husband or father’s signature to open a bank account. They are entitled to receive equal pay for equal work. Women can expect equal access to higher education. But each of these laws can be reversed or repealed as quickly as they were passed. Only with a Constitutional Amendment can equal rights regardless of gender be guaranteed.
DAGR members will help press for Virginia ratification this week. They will join with other Greek groups to plan for the Women’s March on January 19. For more information about the ERA, check the Virginia Ratify ERA website.
For information on the Women’s March as planning moves forward, go to Facebook, public group, Women’s March Athens.
Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm for the millions of Americans living outside the United States. Striving to provide Americans abroad a Democratic voice in our government and elect Democratic candidates by mobilizing the overseas vote, the organization has committees throughout Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. These Country Committees keep Americans abroad informed of their rights and help them participate in the U.S. political process. DA members live in more than 190 countries around the globe and vote in every state and Congressional district. Democrats Abroad is recognized as a “state” Party by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and is represented on the DNC by eight voting members, as well as at the quadrennial Democratic National Convention. The online voter registration tool – votefromabroad.org – makes it easy to request a ballot and vote absentee from any place on the planet.