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Vickie Samuelson: Women continue to fight for equality

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Abby Guymon, left, and her twin sister Kate, 10, join other local supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment for a rally at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, to encourage Utah to ratify the ERA.

On Aug. 26, 1920, women won the right to vote in what would become the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Those women, however, did not include women of color.

In 1973, this day was designated Women’s Equality Day, commemorating certification of the 19th Amendment. Equality, though, is a misnomer. The definition of equality is “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”

While I’m happy that I have the right to vote, I’m also troubled that I and other women lack the “status, rights and opportunities” that men have under the law.

We are not protected under the Constitution, certainly not in the same way that men are.

Women have been fighting for an Equal Rights Amendment for years, and we ask why the concept is so difficult to grasp. We do the same work as men, we fight in the military, we drive 18 wheelers, we are doctors, we are police officers, we are in all levels of management, some have even broken the glass ceiling. Yes, we are professionals in most fields of employment. And the fact that we have shared restrooms with men hasn’t brought the world to an end. Have you been on an airplane lately?

I’ve heard some men say that their wives don’t feel unequal. Why, then, is this man speaking for his wife? Some women say they don’t need an ERA. Really? Then why does a woman make 70 cents on the dollar for the same work as a man? Why is Utah rated one of the highest states with wage inequality, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families study? And there are others who say it doesn’t matter.

Women make up 51% of the U.S. population, and 90% of our entire population supports the ERA. Utah polls show that 70% support for ERA.

Women have the responsibilities, so now we need the rights.

Aug. 26 is a day to celebrate for the right to vote but equality has not been achieved for more than half the population — the women.

Here’s what you can do to right this wrong. On Women’s Equality Day call, text or email U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney to ask them to support the removal of the deadline that is keeping women from the right to be equal.

SJR6 needs to be passed.

Vickie Samuelson

Vickie Samuelson is co-president of the League of Women Voters Utah
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