85% of UN Member States in the world have constitutions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and/or gender. The United States is not one of them.
What is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)?
For more than a century, feminists have realized that this omission presents a major barrier to achieving true gender equality in the United States and that’s why Alice Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
But despite meeting all constitutional requirements necessary to become the 28th amendment, including ratification by 38 states, the ERA has yet to be added to the United States Constitution.
Incorporating the ERA would embed the bedrock principle of sex and gender equality into the most important legal document in the United States. At a time when women’s rights are under severe attack, the ERA would both shield existing rights from political winds as well as help expand protections and liberties for all women, girls, and other marginalized genders.
Specifically, the ERA would make sex a “suspect classification” like race, religion, and national origin and require cases of sex discrimination to undergo “strict scrutiny.” Strict scrutiny is the highest level of justification in the US legal system and would recognize and raise sex equality to the status of a fundamental right and categorize sex as a “protected class.”
Legislatively, the ERA would empower and embolden Congress to pass federal laws that address systemic gender discrimination and inequality, leveling the playing field for women and girls, especially women of color and other historically marginalized groups. It should also make it easier for the courts to strike down existing sex discriminatory laws based on stereotypes.
I Need the ERA Because…
As part of our I Need the ERA because… campaign, launched to mark Women’s Equality Day 2022, we take a closer look at how the ERA would help move the needle on four crucial issues for women and girls, including abortion, child marriage, gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation. Explore our factsheets to learn more.
I need the ERA because…reproductive rights are human rights – Abortion
By rightfully framing access to reproductive healthcare, including access to legal abortion, as fundamental to ensuring gende…
I need the ERA because…a girl is not a wife – Child marriage
It is estimated by Unchained at Last that about 300,000 children were married in the United States between 2000 and 2018, the…
I need the ERA because… I have the right to bodily integrity – FGM
Despite the prevalence of the practice in the USA and the persisting risk to many women and girls, 20% of American states do …
I need the ERA because… one in three women experience violence in her lifetime – Gender Based Violence
Data shows that marginalized communities, such as indigenous women, Black women, and young women will be disproportionately a…
Join our campaign
Tell us why you need the ERA
The ERA would improve equality for everyone -- including men and marginalized genders. Share why you need the ERA on social media using the hashtag #INeedTheERA.
Take action with the ERA Coalition
- We’re proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the ERA Coalition in the efforts to pass the ERA. Head to their website to take action today.
- Check out Vote Equality’s “RVG” tour this Fall.
- ERA Explainer
- The ERA in 2022: What’s Next
- Eliminate the ERA Deadline
- When It Comes To Constitutional Equality, The United States Lags Behind The Rest Of The World
- At Home With Jamia Wilson: Women In Media, The Equal Rights Amendment & Intersectional Feminism
- ERA Amicus Brief In Commonwealth of Virginia, Et Al V. Ferriero
More about recent progress toward the Equal Rights Amendment
In 2019, the movement scored a historic victory when Virginia became the 38th and final state required to ratify the amendment. However, the Trump Administration refused to accept the ratification as legitimate, prompting the Attorneys General of Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada to file a lawsuit against the Archivist of the United States for his failure to add the amendment to the Constitution. Equality Now, in conjunction with its global partners and with pro bono support from Davis Polk & Wardwell, submitted an amicus brief in support of the AGs’ case. If the case is successful, then the US will cease to be a global outlier when it comes to guaranteeing constitutional equality of the sexes.
As a partner in the ERA Coalition, Equality Now is committed to helping secure the ERA's passage through Congress. We are dedicated to providing resources and forums for members of the public to learn more about this critical gap in the U.S. Constitution, and how it can be remedied.
I need the ERA because...reproductive rights are human rights - Abortion
By rightfully framing access to reproductive healthcare, including access to legal abortion, as fundamental to ensuring gende...
I need the ERA because...a girl is not a wife - Child marriage
It is estimated by Unchained at Last that about 300,000 children were married in the United States between 2000 and 2018, the...
I need the ERA because... I have the right to bodily integrity - FGM
Despite the prevalence of the practice in the USA and the persisting risk to many women and girls, 20% of American states do ...
I need the ERA because... one in three women experience violence in her lifetime - Gender Based Violence
Data shows that marginalized communities, such as indigenous women, Black women, and young women will be disproportionately a...