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Holiday honoring women is nice, but equal pay is better | READER COMMENTARY

In this Jan. 22, 2019 file photo, Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, center, speaks during a news conference of ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) supporters after her ERA bill was killed by a House subcommittee inside the Pocahontas Building in Richmond, Virginia. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
In this Jan. 22, 2019 file photo, Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, center, speaks during a news conference of ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) supporters after her ERA bill was killed by a House subcommittee inside the Pocahontas Building in Richmond, Virginia. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) (BOB BROWN/AP)

While I certainly do not oppose a federal holiday to honor women, it would be much more beneficial to invest time and energy toward ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, securing equal protection for women in the U.S. Constitution (”U.S. women deserve a federal public holiday,” Feb. 18).

The ERA has languished unratified since 1972. It is no coincidence that, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, in 1968, women earned just 58 cents to the dollar when compared to men, while in 2019 women earned 82 cents on the dollar. We have achieved a whopping 24 cents of progress in 52 years — a gain of just over a half-cent a year, not exactly cause for celebration.

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There are two pathways to passing the ERA, both require support of the U.S. Congress, and both have already been proposed in the House and Senate since the start of 2021. One pathway is for Congress to pass legislation removing the time limit on the ERA’s ratification. This would allow the 35 states that have already ratified the legislation to “count” and would require only three more states pass it for it to become federal law.

The second pathway is for Congress to “start over,” renew and pass ERA legislation and send to the states for ratification. It would require ratification in 38 states to become federal law.

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Passing the ERA once and for all will ensure women’s rights are protected. It is hard to imagine our country has not managed to do this in over 100 years since women earned the right to vote. Let’s get this done! Then we can focus on a federal holiday for women. Otherwise, the holiday will be just lip service suggesting “we appreciate you” without actually paying you or treating you equally.

Melissa Falen, Baltimore

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