As the body count of famous men accused of sexual harassment grows on a daily basis, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) believes the time is right to pass the federal Equal Rights Amendment as a commitment to equality for women and a tool to fight discriminatory laws.
As part of this push, Maloney released a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio last week that calls on him to keep the Fearless Girl statue right where it is — in front of the Charging Bull statue in Bowling Green Park — until the ERA is ratified as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equal rights for women.
“The women of this country are speaking up like never before and declaring that we are tired of being treated as second-class citizens,” Maloney said. “With more and more women sharing stories of being sexually assaulted or harassed, now is the time to pass the ERA. By amending the Constitution to make the simple, but powerful, declaration that men and women are equals, we will be sending a clear message that the days of discrimination against women are over, while also protecting women against discriminatory laws. “The Fearless Girl has been an important part of inspiring women to speak out and I believe she should stay where she is until we add the ERA to the constitution.”
The ERA is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex, originally introduced in Congress in 1923. It gained support during the women’s rights movement of the 1960 and by 1977 the amendment was ratified by 35 of the 38 states needed before Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition.
In 2017, Maloney introduced the ERA for the 10th time in her Congressional career. Last Friday Maloney was joined by New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, the ERA Coalition, women’s rights advocates and the CEO of the Girl Scouts of greater New York alongside the Fearless Girl statue as the 100th anniversary of suffrage for women in New York approaches.
“Not only is New York the birthplace of women’s rights, but it is also the home of continued advancement of women’s rights,” Hochul said. “Whether we are talking about equal pay or freedom from harassment, New York is standing up and saying we will no longer accept the status quo. True equality requires a culture shift and New York’s women are prepared to step forward and demand the equal treatment we have been denied for far too many years.”
An ERA would put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly where women have been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Meredith Maskara, 44, a Sunnyside resident and mother of five daughters and the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, agrees with Maloney that the time is right for the ERA, and that the Fearless Girl statue, herself an honorary Girl Scout, remain in place.
“For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts has been the leading organization equipping girls and women with the tools and confidence they need to advocate for themselves and others, through or by girls, for girls approach,” Maskara said. “While women and girl leaders are creating great change in their communities and across multiple sectors, the fight for true gender equality is far from over. The Equal Rights Amendment is a necessary step in the long road towards equal treatment for all, and we are honored to stand beside Representative Carolyn Maloney as she continues this essential fight.”
Maskara helped create Girl Scout Troop 6000 last spring, the first of its kind in New York City reserved only for homeless girls. It is based in the Sleep Inn Hotel in Long Island City.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
©2017 Community News Group
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