A Needed Amend­ment for Women’s Rights

The Washington Post Sunday - - Letters -

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.)

Wash­ing­ton

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