Women push for equal rights in St. Paul on International Women's - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Women push for equal rights in St. Paul on International Women's Day

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Equal Rights Amendment supporters rally at the Minnesota State Capitol Thursday morning. Equal Rights Amendment supporters rally at the Minnesota State Capitol Thursday morning.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -

Thursday, March 8, is all about the ladies. That's because it's International Women's Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Hundreds of women, and some men, rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol for equal rights Thursday morning.

"I will not be silent. I will not wait my turn. I will never accept my place. I will work to continue a legacy for all women. Will you work with me? Will you work for the freedom of all women?" said LaDonna Redmond, an activist quoting a speech at a podium set up in the rotunda.

Women and men were calling on state lawmakers to add an Equal Rights Amendment to Minnesota's Constitution. Proponents say it's needed to secure equal rights.

"This is really important work. Gender equality is something that should be part of the Constitution. Women are human beings. It's a human interest issue," said Marquita Oleson, the action chair for the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of the National Organization for Women.

But don't Minnesota and the U.S. already have an equal rights amendment? Not exactly.

The U.S. Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972. The Amendment was then sent to states for ratification. Only 35 states ratified the ERA by the 1979 deadline, three states short of the necessary 38. 

Congress extended the deadline by three years, to 1982, but no new states ratified the amendment. 

Even though the ERA was never truly ratified, 21 states have added similar amendments to their state constitutions. Minnesota was not one of them.

"There's all sorts of things it can help with: gender equality whether it's pay equality, and all sorts of discrimination that can happen in the workplace and beyond," said Oleson.

"An equal rights amendment must bring us equal protection under the law. For we, historically, as black and indigenous women of color, have carried the duel burden of Jim Crow and Jane Crow too," said Redmond. "So those that stand with me for equal rights have to say no to prison bans for women, no to jails, say no to poor graduation rates, no to police shootings, no to guns in schools, no to teachers having guns in schools, say no to poverty, no to homelessness, and no to hunger. You have to say no."

 

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