"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 1, Equal Rights Amendment
During the past few months of distance learning for my teenage daughter, I've had the opportunity to revisit some of the milestones of the women's rights movement as part of her women's studies class. The first version of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress in 1923; her class covered the effort to ratify the ERA and the counter-movement in the 1970s that prevented it from becoming law. She was amazed that we are still having this debate – and legal battle – in 2020.
Many people think that men and women are already explicitly guaranteed equal rights under the U.S. Constitution, but that is not the case. In fact, the only right that the text of the Constitution specifically affirms equally for women and men is the right to vote (the 19th Amendment). By contrast, an overwhelming majority of the world's constitutions contain provisions guaranteeing equal rights regardless of gender or prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. It would only take one short sentence to guarantee women full equality under the U.S. Constitution, which sets forth the values that define us as a nation, and the basic rights of citizens. Surely, gender equality is one. And yet -- 97 years later -- this remains unfinished business.
In January of this year, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA (thank you, Virginia!). With Virginia's final push, the requisite number of states have ratified the ERA, and what's left is for the federal government to certify the adoption of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Today, Citi joins a group of leading U.S. companies in signing a "friend of the court" (amicus) brief in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Ferriero in support of the ERA's adoption. We are proud to stand alongside other organizations that span the breadth of the U.S. economy. Our participation underscores the firm's commitment to gender equality and its importance to our business and to society.
Almost a century after its initial introduction, the ERA is still needed to finally give women full equality under the U.S. Constitution and provide a permanent and powerful tool to advance gender equality. Commonwealth of Virginia v. Ferriero marks another steps toward its adoption, which is fundamental to achieving a uniform standard for the protection of women's rights in the U.S. At Citi, we believe we all have a role to play in creating a more equitable and inclusive global society – for this generation and the next – and are proud to lend our voice to this historic case.