As Stories of Sexual Assault on Women Continue to Come Out, Rep. Maloney, Lt. Governor, Girl Scouts, Call for Federal Equal Rights Amendment to Demonstrate the Nation’s Commitment to Women’s Equality
NEW YORK—On Friday, November 17th, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, the Girl Scouts of Greater NY, the ERA Coalition, women’s rights advocates, and local elected officials at the Fearless Girl statue—herself an honorary Girl Scout—to call for the passage of a federal Equal Rights Amendment. With more and more women sharing stories of being sexually assaulted, now is the time to finally enact the ERA as a commitment to equality for women and tool to fight discriminatory laws. As part of this push, Rep. Maloney released a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio that calls on him to keep the Fearless Girl statue at her post until the federal ERA is added to the Constitution. Full text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.
“The women of this country are speaking up like never before and declaring that we are tired of being treating as second-class citizens,” said Rep. Maloney. “With more and more women sharing stories of being sexually assaulted or harassed, now is the time to the pass the ERA. By amending the Constitution to make the simple, yet 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.”
“Not only is New York the birthplace of women’s rights, but it is also the home of the continued advancement of women’s rights. Whether we’re talking about equal pay or freedom from harassment, New York is standing up and saying we will no longer accept the status quo,” said Lieutenant Governor Hochul. “I am proud to stand by Congresswoman Maloney’s side and call for passage of the ERA. 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.”
“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 our by girls, for girls approach,” said Girl Scouts of Greater New York CEO Meridith Maskara. “While women and girl leaders are creating great change in their communities and across multiple sectors, the fight for true gender equity 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.”
“Women and men are speaking out against the systematic discrimination and harassment faced in the workplace,” said Marcy Syms, Board Chair of ERA Coalition. “We are better than this, and the women and men of this country deserve better. It is time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and recognize the equal rights of women in the nation’s founding document, the U.S. Constitution.”
“I stand in solidarity with my colleagues and advocates to send a message that we will not compromise on the issue of gender inequality and I commend Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for being a champion for women’s rights in in Washington D.C. On the state level, I am proud to have introduced the Equal Rights Amendment bill in the Assembly, which would undoubtedly bring us closer to bridging gender inequality. The Fearless Girl is a symbol of what will become a national movement W.W.W. - Women Will Win!” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“100 years ago this month, women in New York won the right to vote, but we are still far from realizing true equality,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. “It is unacceptable that women are not only continue to face discrimination based solely on their sex, but that there aren’t appropriate legal protections to prevent it. I thank Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, who has been a tireless advocate for women and girls.”
“It’s hard to believe that in 2017, we are still fighting to bring an end to gender discrimination and to pass the federal Equal Rights Amendment. It’s way past time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in order to better protect the rights of women under the law and modernize our understanding of justice. Embodying the strength, the agency, and the perseverance of women, the Fearless Girl statue represents our duty to stand up to injustice and helps normalize the conversation around female empowerment. I am proud to join Congresswoman Maloney in support of her relentless drive to advance women’s rights forward as we continue to work for full equality,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
Letter to Mayor de Blasio
November 2, 2017
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
In the wake of the recent national tidal wave of disturbing revelations concerning the treatment of women in the workplace, I am writing to request that you make a statement on behalf of the City of New York’s support for gender equality by allowing the Fearless Girl statue, in front of the Charging Bull in Bowling Green Park, to remain right where it is until an Equal Rights Amendment is ratified as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equal rights for women.
From the moment of its appearance, this statue became a powerful symbol for women. Tourists from all over the country and around the globe flock to the statue, which speaks to a fundamental longing for greater opportunity and full equality for women. Fearless Girl embodies strength, courage, and determination even in the face of adversity. She serves as an affirming message to women to stand their ground. And she is a reminder that women still do not have equal rights, and it is a goal we must keep fighting for.
Symbols like the Fearless Girl Statue play an important role in the public square. They reflect what we place value on as a society. They influence public opinion and inform our understanding of history. Fearless Girl is a statement about how far women still need to go to achieve equality. By linking the statue to the Equal Right Amendment, you would be sending a very strong message about the need to add equal rights for women to the Constitution. Her presence would act as a constant reminder of what we need to achieve.
As we approach the 100th anniversary New York of suffrage for women in New York, we are reminded of our state’s long tradition of valuing women’s rights and serving as a leader for social change for the entire country. We were the state that hosted the great Seneca Falls Convention that first called for women’s suffrage. We were the only Northeastern state to grant women full voting rights before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. And we should be the state that hosts a symbol of the need for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women equal rights. Accordingly, I urge you to keep the statue until we have an ERA.
Very truly yours,
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Maloney has worked tirelessly as an advocate and leader for women. She has placed a special emphasis on women’s health needs, reproductive freedom, international family planning, and securing women’s equality in the Constitution. In 2017, Rep. Maloney introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (H.J. Res. 33) for the tenth time in her Congressional career.
What is the ERA:
The ERA is a constitutional amendment which would prohibit denying or abridging equal rights under law by the United States or any state on account of sex. This critical amendment would guarantee the equal rights of women and men by:
- Making sex a suspect category subject to strict judicial scrutiny, clarifying the legal status of sex discrimination for the courts. This would prohibit sexual discrimination in the same way the United States has already prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and national origin.
- Guaranteeing equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states.
- Ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit women and men equally.
Why we need the ERA:
- An ERA will give all citizens the opportunity to reach their full potential. Women and men must have equal rights for a democracy to thrive.
- An ERA will put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly in areas where women have historically been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
- Women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
- Passing an ERA will put the full weight of the U.S. Constitution behind employment laws relating to the prevention of sex discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, and benefits – especially in the public sector.
- An ERA will eliminate sex discrimination in the armed services and ensure that government programs, such as Social Security, do not have a disparate negative impact on women.
- Pregnancy discrimination continues to be prevalent in the workforce. An ERA can protect women from being harmed by a policy simply because she is a woman.
- The 14th amendment is not enough. Only an ERA would provide for gender equity and offer an “overriding guarantee” of equal protection for women.
- Women’s progress can be all too easily rolled back. Laws can be repealed and judicial attitudes can shift. Supreme Court Justice Scalia has even said that the Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender.
- An ERA will ensure that the rights of American women and girls will not be diminished by any Congress or any political trend, but instead be preserved as basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.