A Needed Amendment for Women’s Rights
George F. Will’s vitriolic April 1 column, “The Return of That ’70s Thing,” which rejected the constitutional amendment we have proposed regarding equal rights for women, ignored the strong case that the amendment is needed to guarantee that the Constitution applies equally to men and women. From our nation’s beginning, women have had to wage a constant and difficult battle to win the basic rights granted to men. That battle continues today.
Despite enactment of equal pay and civil rights laws, discrimination against women still permeates the workforce and parts of the economy. Today, women earn only 77 cents for each dollar men earn, and the gap is greater for minorities. In 2004, African American women earned only 67 percent of the earnings of white men, and Hispanic women earned only 56 percent.
Women with college and professional degrees have achieved advances in many professional and managerial occupations in recent years. Yet more than 60 percent of working women are clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally lower-paying jobs, and households headed by women still make up the bulk of the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
A stronger effort is needed to finally meet our commitment to full equality. A constitutional amendment alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will strengthen women’s efforts to obtain equal treatment.
EDWARD M. KENNEDY
U.S. Senator (D-Mass.) CAROLYN B. MALONEY U.S. Representative (D-N.Y.)