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Only America and 49 other countries – out of 187 -- celebrate Mother’s Day. Besides relatives showering women with cards, flowers and gifts, there is a long overdue action we must deliver to females.
In a letter dated March 31, 1776, the eventual First Lady Abigail Adams told her husband John Adams (ensuing second president of the United States), as he and other men set off to form the new American democracy: “Remember, John, … if particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we … will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
Research is replete our esteemed Founding Fathers had absolutely no intention of giving women a voice in public affairs.
It took 144 years of public disdain, imprisonment, marches and perseverance before women were permitted to vote through the 19th Amendment in 1920. How did that occur?
President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was against giving women the right to vote until World War I broke out and he witnessed women voluntarily stepping up to the plate to help fight the war. Wilson stated “we have made partners of the women in this war” and supported passage of the 19th Amendment.
Let’s examine how far behind we are for equal rights between genders.
Only 10 nations out of 187 countries in the world offer the same legal rights to working women as men: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden, according to a 2021 World Bank Study. Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (S.J. Res. 1) that’s before the U.S. Senate would resolve this legal rights issue in America.
The ERA was first introduced in Congress in 1923. In 1972, Charles Grassley, then serving in the Iowa House of Representatives, voted yes on the ERA, helping to make Iowa the fourth state to ratify it. Later he told a Des Moines Register reporter that if he were not running for public office, he would have voted against the ERA.
Despite Grassley’s reluctant yea vote in the Iowa House 49 years ago, his support in D.C. is uncertain. Perplexing, isn’t it?
I guess we have to shower Grassley and other elected officials, 83% are men, not with cards, flowers and gifts – but with facts. A must-read article for those who believe in a patriarchal society governed by men appears in marieclaire.com (Apr. 27), titled “23 ways women still aren’t equal to men.”
Research conducted by the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project reports that Iowa women earn 77% of men’s salary. If women make less money than men, it stands to reason retired women are twice as likely as retired men to live in poverty (CNBC, Mar. 19, 2019).
Nearly 39 percent of Iowa households (85,000) are headed by women who do not earn enough to support their basic living expenses. Income inequality in Iowa is not a myth or folklore, it’s a real issue.
Despite the Department of Health and Human Services issuing a ruling in 2013 prohibiting discrimination in health insurance and healthcare, women pay more (about $1,500/year) for health insurance and receive less healthcare usage due to costs, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For this Mother’s Day, give a gift to the loved females in your family by requesting GOP Sens. Grassley and Joni Ernst to vote yes on S.J. Res. 1 (ERA), which will rectify male-female legal rights disparities. We’ll deal with other parity issues down-the-road.
Like the 72 year fight to bring the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote to fruition, passage of the ERA – 98 years after it was introduced in Congress -- would be a giant step forward for gender equality . . . a gift long overdue.
Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer.