MetroFocus: August 25, 2021

The recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan raises concerns that there will be a return to strict, Islamic law that harshly limits the freedoms of women and girls, as was the case when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan, twenty years ago. Sunita Viswanath, co-founder and Board Chair of Women for Afghan Women, joins us to discuss what her organization, which operates both in Afghanistan and in New York City, is doing to support women in Afghanistan who currently fear for their lives and futures, as well as the Afghan American community here in New York, many of whom have relatives still in Afghanistan.

The 2017 rise of the #METOO movement brought a renewed interest to women’s equality and rights. The commitment and interest helped many women win first-term seats in the 2018 midterm elections. So who were the women that paved the way for the generation we see demanding change today? Writer and professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and visiting professor of law at Yale Law School, Julie Suk joins us tonight. Her new book, “The Women:  The Unstoppable Mothers Of The Equal Rights Amendment”, tells the stories of the women behind a movement and how their work still resonates.

TRANSCRIPT

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> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH - RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY JUDY AND JOSH WESTON DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THE WORLD WATCHED IN SHOCK LAST WEEK AS THE TALIBAN SEIZED MUCH OF AFGHANISTAN, RECLAIMING CONTROL OF THE COUNTRY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 20 YEARS.

WITH THE REMOVAL OF U.S. TROOPS, THE TALIBAN HAD PROMISED TO INSTALL AN ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT, LEAVING THOSE STILL IN AFGHANISTAN WORRIED ABOUT HOW THIS WILL IMPACT THEIR CIVIL LIBERTIES AND POTENTIALLY PUT THEIR LIVES AT RISK.

WOMEN AND GIRLS HAVE PARTICULAR CAUSE FOR CONCERN DUE TO THE TALIBAN'S HARSH RULE SURROUNDING WHAT WOMEN CAN AND CANNOT DO.

THE LAST TIME THE TALIBAN WAS IN POWER, WOMEN WERE BARRED FROM MANY ASPECTS OF PUBLIC LIFE INCLUDING WORKING, RECEIVING AN EDUCATION, AND SERVING IN THE GOVERNMENT.

WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN, A WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION OPERATING IN AFGHANISTAN AND HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, IS FIGHTING TO PROTECT AFGHAN WOMEN AND EVACUATE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THE ONGOING SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN AND WHAT THE ORGANIZATION IS DOING TO HELP IS SUNITA VISHNAVAD, CO-FOUNDER AND BOARD CHAIR FOR WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT THIS WORK AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.

AND OF COURSE I THINK OUR VIEWERS WOULD BE VERY INTERESTED IN LEARNING WHAT IT IS THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS BEEN DOING AND NOT JUST IN REGARD TO THIS CURRENT CRISIS, BUT YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS EXISTED FOR A WHILE NOW.

WHAT IS IT YOU WERE DOING EVEN PRIOR TO THIS CURRENT SITUATION WITH THE TALIBAN?

THIS ORGANIZATION, WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN, WAS FOUNDED BEFORE 9/11 RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY,WHERE I AM NOW.

A NUMBER OF US, AFGHAN AND NON-AFGHAN, WERE DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE NEWS COMING OUT OF AFGHANISTAN UNDER THE TALIBAN AT THAT TIME.

AND WE WERE WORKING ON WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN, AND FINALLY IN APRIL 2001 WE CREATED OURSELVES WITH THIS NAME.

WE DIDN'T KNOW THAT 9/11 WAS SIX MONTHS AHEAD OF US.

SO WE REALLY -- YOU KNOW, IT WAS VERY SURREAL THAT WE WERE ORGANIZING FOR SOMETHING THAT WE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WAS AHEAD OF US.

BECAUSE IN THE BEGINNING, BEFORE 9/11, WE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT AFGHANISTAN AND WHAT MEN AND WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN THOUGHT NOBODY WAS LISTENING TO US.

WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED, ALL OF A SUDDEN THE WHOLE WORLD KNEW WHERE AFGHANISTAN WAS, HOW TO BEST SELL IT, AND THERE WAS A LOT TO TALK ABOUT AND A LOT TO DO.

WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN HAS GROWN OVER 20 YEARS.

WE FIRST STARTED IN NEW YORK CITY BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE WE WERE AND BECAUSE THERE IS A BIG AFGHAN COMMUNITY RIGHT HERE IN QUEENS.

OUR FIRST PROGRAM WAS RIGHT IN QUEENS.

IT'S CALLED THE QUEENS COMMUNITY CENTER.

IT STILL EXISTS.

RIGHT NOW, THAT CENTER IS VIBRANT AND DOING SUCH IMPORTANT WORK IN THE COMMUNITY, IN THIS MOMENT OF CRISIS BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE TRAUMATIZED, REALLY PANICKED ABOUT FAMILY BACK HOME.

AND THEN THE COMMUNITY CENTER ALSO OVER THE YEARS HAS BEEN A SITE FOR REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT.

AND WE HOPE TO BE DOING A LOT MORE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT.

REFUGEES COMING IN IN THIS CRISIS ARE COMING INTO VIRGINIA.

THE VIRGINIA AFGHAN COMMUNITY IS EVEN LARGER THAN THE NEW YORK AFGHAN COMMUNITY.

WE'RE DOING WORK AS I SPEAK TO CREATE THE VIRGINIA WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN COMMUNITY CENTER.

SO THERE'S A LOT GOING ON IN THE STATE FOR AFGHAN WOMEN RIGHT NOW.

THE FIRST PROGRAM WAS THE QUEENS COMMUNITY CENTER, BUT THEN OUR STAFF LEADERSHIP THAT BUILT THAT CENTER TOOK THE WORK TO AFGHANISTAN.

AND THE FIRST PROGRAM THAT WE OPENED IN AFGHANISTAN WOULD HAVE BEEN 2005.

THEN WE STARTED IN KABUL.

OVER THE YEARS, 15 YEARS NOW, WE'VE EXPANDED FROM ONE PROVINCE TO 14 PROVINCES ACROSS AFGHANISTAN.

AND THE WORK THAT WE DO, WHETHER IT'S IN QUEENS OR IN ANY OF THOSE PROVINCES, THE STAFF THAT WE HIRE ARE AFGHAN, AFGHAN COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN QUEENS OR AFGHANS FROM THE PROVINCE, WHEREVER WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

AND THEY'RE ALL MUSLIMS.

AND THE PEOPLE WHO COME TO THE ORGANIZATION WHO HAVE HAD HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ARE ALSO OBVIOUSLY FROM THE COMMUNITY.

SO THIS IS IN EVERY WAY, SHAPE, AND FORM A COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION AND EVERYTHING HAPPENS WITHIN THE CULTURAL CONTEXT AND THE RELIGION.

OTHERWISE NOBODY WOULD COME, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO NEED THE SERVICES OR THE STAFF.

SO IT IS ABSOLUTELY AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS BEEN FUNCTIONING WITHIN AN ISLAMIC CONTEXT.

AND THEN YOU SAID ABOUT THE TALIBAN TAKEOVER, THAT THE TALIBAN, YOU KNOW, HAS TAKEN OVER AFGHANISTAN AND IT'S GOING TO BE AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY.

FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS IT HAS BEEN AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY.

AND SO IT HAS BEEN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN.

WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF STAFF ATTORNEYS IN AFGHANISTAN.

OVER THESE 20 YEARS, OUR STAFF IN AFGHANISTAN GREW TO 1,200.

WE WERE THE LARGEST -- OR ARE THE LARGEST WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION SERVING, YOU KNOW, AFGHAN WOMEN IN THE WORLD.

BECAUSE OUR INFRASTRUCTURE WAS SO GREAT, THE MOST EXTREME CASES OF VIOLATIONS CAME TO US.

AND THE WORK THAT WE DID ABSOLUTELY SINCERELY RESPECTED THE FAITH OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR ORGANIZATION AND THE FACT THAT WE'RE WORKING IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY.

SO THAT PART HASN'T CHANGED.

IT'S JUST -- AND I WAS SAYING ABOUT OUR LAWYERS, OUR HUNDREDS OF STAFF ATTORNEYS COMING OUT OF THE LAW SCHOOLS OF AFGHANISTAN, THEY STUDY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND SHARIAH LAW.

THEY'RE EXPERTS IN SHARIAH LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

AND THEY WORK WITH BOTH IN THE COURTS TO GET THE BEST RESULTS FOR THE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE REPRESENTING.

SO NONE OF THAT IS NEW FOR US.

IF IN THIS NEW AFGHANISTAN, THE THINGS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF THE TALIBAN'S MOUTHS RIGHT NOW, IF THE WORDS COMING OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS RIGHT NOW ARE TRUE AND THE PROMISES THEY'RE MAKING THAT GIRLS CAN GO TO SCHOOL AND WOMEN CAN GO TO WORK AND AMNESTY IS BEING GIVEN, IF ALL OF THAT IS TRUE, IT'S NOT CRAZY TO THINK WE CAN KEEP WORKING IN AFGHANISTAN BECAUSE WE ALREADY HAVE A TRACK RECORD FOR WORKING WITHIN THIS ISLAMIC CULTURE.

AND THE JURY IS OUT.

WE DON'T KNOW IN A WEEK OR A MONTH OR WHENEVER IF THE TRUTH WILL COME HOME THAT THESE WORDS ARE NOT TRUE AND WE ARE ACTUALLY HEADED BACK TO THOSE DAYS THAT YOU WERE DESCRIBING PRE-9/11.

THERE IS NO WAY FOR US TO KNOW AT THIS MOMENT.

BUT WHAT I WILL SAY ABOUT WHAT WE ARE DOING AT THIS MOMENT, OF THOSE 1,200 STAFF AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CLIENTS, WE HAVE ALREADY EVACUATED, YOU KNOW, AS MANY AS WE CAN OUT OF THE PROVINCES TO KABUL.

AND MANY OF OUR ORGANIZATION MEMBERS, STAFF, CLIENTS, HAVE GONE UNDERGROUND INTO THEIR FAMILIES' COMMUNITIES AND STAYING SAFE, LYING LOW, WHERE THEY CAN.

WE HAVE WITH US THE 500 HIGHEST RISK CLIENTS, STAFF MEMBERS, AND STAFF MEMBER FAMILIES.

AND THAT IS THE GROUP OF PEOPLE WE HAVE BEEN WORKING NIGHT AND DAY TO GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN BECAUSE THEY TRULY ARE AT RISK.

AND WE ARE WORKING WITH THE U.S.

GOVERNMENT, THE STATE DEPARTMENT IS OUR BIGGEST FUNDER, THEY'RE ALSO WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK TO HELP GET OUR FOLKS AND PROBABLY MANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND ENTITIES TOO, WE'RE JUST ONE OF MANY.

BUT OUR WOMEN BEING THE LARGEST WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION, OUR STAFF AND OUR CLIENTS, I WOULD SAY ARE THE HIGHEST RISK.

AND I HOPE THAT ALL THE WORK THAT'S BEEN DONE TO PREPARE LISTS AND LISTS OF OUR PEOPLE TO GET ON A PLANE, IT'S BEEN A WEEK.

THE TALIBAN HAS SAID THAT AUGUST 31 IS THE DEADLINE FOR EVACUATIONS AND THEY'RE NOT EXTENDING IT.

SO IT'S BEEN A WEEK OF NOTHING.

WE HAVEN'T EVACUATED ONE OF OUR PEOPLE.

AND THERE'S NEWS ABOUT EVACUATION IS ESCALATING OR IS ACCELERATING.

WELL, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE OUR PEOPLE, THE WOMEN, THE WOMEN WHO ARE THE HIGHEST RISK, AND THEIR FAMILIES, GET ON A PLANE TO GET OUT BEFORE THEY ARE KILLED.

THAT'S MY APPEAL TO THE U.S.

GOVERNMENT.

THAT'S MY APPEAL TO ANYBODY NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE.

IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO SOMEBODY IN THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT, IN THE UK GOVERNMENT, IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA FOR HOW TO GET A PLANE TO KABUL TO GET OUR 500 PEOPLE OUT, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

THAT IS OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY RIGHT NOW, TO GET OUR HIGH RISK PEOPLE OUT BEFORE THERE IS A DISASTER.

AND THAT WAS ONE OF MY QUESTIONS, WAS WHAT IS IT THAT PEOPLE CAN DO.

BUT YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE GIVEN US A WAY TO CONTACT YOU DIRECTLY.

CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA FOR HOW TO GET -- AND MAKE SURE IT'S A REAL LEAD, YOU KNOW, IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING -- BECAUSE IT'S URGENT.

I DEFINITELY -- AND I THINK EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET THAT, BECAUSE IT ABSOLUTELY COMES ACROSS IN YOUR VOICE.

BUT WITH, YOU KNOW, OUR REMAINING TIME, THE OTHER CONCERN THAT'S COME UP IS WHERE THIS LEAVES THE U.S./AFGHAN RELATIONSHIP.

THE U.S. RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MIDLE EAST IN GENERAL.

ENTIRE REGION, BUT FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE AT LEAST, FROM THE REFUGEES THAT YOU'VE MET, WHERE DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THEIR TRUST LEVEL IS IN TERMS OF WHO IS GOING TO BE THERE TO HELP THEM IN THIS MOMENT OF CRISIS?

SO I MEAN, I'M REALLY IN A CRISIS MODE, USUALLY I WOULD BE ABLE TO COLLECT MY THOUGHTS AND GIVE SOME ANALYSIS.

I CAN'T DO THAT RIGHT NOW.

WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS ON THE U.S. SIDE, WE HAVE MAJOR INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE FUNDING, BIG FUNDING, FOR REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT.

AND WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN IS BUILDING OUR CAPACITY IN THAT ACQUIRE.

AND NONE OF THOSE ORGANIZATIONS WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF THE INCOMING REFUGEES WITHOUT SOMEBODY LIKE US BECAUSE OF THE LANGUAGE, BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE, BECAUSE OF THE TRAUMA THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE GONE THROUGH, BECAUSE THERE ARE CHILDREN ARRIVING WITHOUT THEIR PARENTS.

MAYBE THEIR PARENTS ARE ON ANOTHER FLIGHT OR MAYBE THEY'RE NOT COMING, WE DON'T KNOW.

SO OUR ORGANIZATION, OUR STAFF AND OUR VOLUNTEERS, ARE CRITICAL TO HELP THOSE CHILDREN, FAMILIES, PEOPLE WHO ARE ARRIVING, YOU KNOW, HAVE SOMEBODY WHO -- I'M SURE EVERYBODY IS VERY CARING BUT SOMEBODY WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT THEY'RE SAYING AND CAN GIVE THAT KIND OF CULTURAL WELCOME TO THEM.

SO THIS IS WHAT WE'RE -- AND THE FACT THAT THERE ARE ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE THE FUNDING TO DO THIS WORK IS SOMETHING THAT THIS COUNTRY CAN BE VERY PROUD OF.

AND I WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW, I'M AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, AND MY ORGANIZATION, WOMEN FOR AFTER AGAIN WOMEN, HAS BEEN GENEROUSLY FUNDED BY THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OVER ALL THESE YEARS.

WHAT I WOULD SAY IS PRESIDENT BIDEN AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS PLEASE, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN, PRIORITIZE WOMEN.

I SEE TRANSLATORS, OF COURSE THEY'RE A PRIORITY.

MAKE WOMEN THE PRIORITY AND HELP GET THE MOST AT-RISK WOMEN OUT.

I WOULD ALSO SAY YOU STILL HAVE LEVERAGE WITH YOUR VOICE AND POWER.

DO ANYTHING YOU CAN TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE NEW GOVERNMENT OF AFGHANISTAN TO RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS.

THAT'S SOMETHING IN THE POWER OF THE U.S.

PLEASE DO THAT.

AND THEN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD, THIS IS A TIME TO OPEN THE DOORS.

PLEASE LET AT-RISK AFGHANS INTO YOUR NATIONS.

THOSE WOULD BE MY PLEAS AT THIS MOMENT.

ABSOLUTELY.

LISTEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THE CO-FOUNDER AND BOARD CHAIR OF WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN.

YOU HAVE MADE A VERY POWERFUL CASE FOR THE URGENCY OF THIS MOMENT AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO SHOULD THEY HAVE ANY IDEAS, TO REACH OUT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

AND OF COURSE I SHOULD ALSO SAY WOMENFORAFGHANWOMEN.ORG, ANYONE WHO HAS THE ABILITY TO DONATE, I WILL VOUCH FOR YOUR MONEY SAVING A LIFE.

PLEASE DONATE GENEROUSLY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

> HI, I'M JENNA FLANAGAN OF 'METROFOCUS.'

THE 2017 RISE OF THE 'ME TOO' MOVEMENT BROUGHT A RENEWED INTEREST TO WOMEN'S EQUALITY, VOICES, AND RIGHTS.

THAT HELPED MANY WOMEN WIN FIRST TIME SEATS IN THE 2018 MIDTERM ELECTIONS.

BUT FOR ALL THE GAINS AMERICAN WOMEN HAVE MADE, SOME ARE STILL ASKING, HAVE WOMEN COME FAR ENOUGH?

2020, IN ADDITION TO BEING A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR AND THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE 19th AMENDMENT GUARANTEEING WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE, IT IS ALSO THE YEAR THAT VIRGINIA, THE FINAL STATE IN THE UNION, RATIFIED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

AND WERE THE WOMEN WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR THE GENERATION WE SEE DEMANDING CHANGE TODAY?

JOINING ME IS A WRITER AND PROFESSOR AT THE CUNY GRADUATE LAW, WHOSE NEW BOOK, 'THE WOMEN: UNSTOPPABLE MEMBER OF THE WOMEN RIGHTS MOVEMENT,' TELLS THE STORY OF THOSE WOMEN AND HOW THEIR WORK RESONATES TODAY.

JULIE, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FOR THOSE WHO MAY NOT BE UP WITH THE LATEST GOVERNMENT MACHINATIONS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT VIRGINIA FINAL RATIFIED THE E.R.A.?

THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT GUARANTEES EQUAL RIGHTS, NOT TO BE ABRIDGED BY SEX.

IT WAS INTRODUCED AFTER WOMEN WHO GOT THE VOTE BECAUSE A LOT OF WOMEN WHO WORKED ON SUFFRAGE BELIEVED THAT THE VOTE WAS JUST THE BEGINNING, THAT AFTER THE VOTE THERE WAS ACTUAL EQUAL RIGHTS AND CITIZENSHIP.

THAT'S WHY THEY FOUGHT FOR THE E.R.A.

THEY WANTED TO GET RID OF LAWS THAT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST WOMEN BECAUSE THERE WERE A LOT OF LAWS THAT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST WOMEN BEYOND DISCRIMINATING AGAINST WOMEN WITH REGARD TO THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

SO THE E.R.A. WAS INTRODUCED IN 1923.

BUT IT ACTUALLY DIDN'T GET OFF THE GROUND UNTIL THE 1970s.

AND WHEN CONGRESS FINALLY ADOPTED IT IN 1972, OUR CONSTITUTION REQUIRED THAT 3/4 OF ALL THE STATES IN THE UNION RATIFY A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

AND IN THE 1970s, ONLY 35 STATES RATIFIED IT.

IF YOU DO THE MATH, 35 STATES IS THREE SHORT OF THE 38 NEEDED.

AND SO IT'S ONLY IN RECENT YEARS, IN 2017, THAT THREE ADDITIONAL STATES RATIFIED INCLUDING VIRGINIA JUST THIS YEAR.

NOW THERE'S A BIG QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THAT'S TOO LATE, BECAUSE WHEN CONGRESS ADOPTED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IN 1972, THEY PUT A DEADLINE ON RATIFICATION AND THAT DEADLINE WAS ONLY SEVEN YEARS, SO IT'S LONG PAST, SEVERAL DECADES AGO.

SO THAT'S THE QUESTION.

NOW, AS TO WHETHER THE E.R.A. IS STILL RELEVANT AND WHETHER SOME OF THOSE HURDLES HAVING TO DO WITH THE DEADLINE COULD BE OVERCOME.

SPEAKING OF THE RELEVANCE OF THE E.R.A., FOR WOMEN WHO CAME AFTER THE INITIAL ADOPTION AT LEAST MOST OF THE STATES, LET'S SAY -- EXACTLY, AND MYSELF AS WELL.

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF THE DISCRIMINATORY LAWS ON THE BOOKS?

NOT EVERYBODY HAS A CONTEXT FOR WHAT IT WAS THAT WAS GAINED.

WHEN THE E.R.A. WAS ACTUALLY ADOPTED IN 1972, A LOT OF THE LAWS THAT WERE DISCRIMINATORY FROM THE '20s WERE ACTUALLY GONE BY THEN.

BUT STILL IN 1972, WHEN CONGRESS ADOPTED THE E.R.A., THERE WERE STILL LAWS ON THE BOOKS THAT ALLOWED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, SOME STATES MADE IT SO THAT WOMEN WERE EXEMPTED FROM JURY SERVICE.

ALL MEN WERE CALLED TO JURY DUTY BUT WOMEN WERE ONLY CALLED IF THEY OPTED IN.

AND WHAT THAT MEANT IN PRACTICE WAS THAT YOU COULD HAVE ALL-MALE JURIES, AND THAT WAS VERY COMMON, EVEN IN THE EARLY 1970s.

ANOTHER MAJOR ISSUE WAS THE EXCLUSION OF WOMEN FROM CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS OF POWER INCLUDING IN VIRGINIA, THE VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE.

AND THE VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE WASN'T THE ONLY PUBLIC INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THERE WERE MANY OTHERS.

AND THOSE KINDS OF LAWS THAT TREATED WOMEN DIFFERENTLY SOMETIMES DISADVANTAGED THEM, AND WOMEN WANTED AN E.R.A. TO GET RID OF THAT.

THERE WERE ALSO OTHER FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION.

IN SOME PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS, IF A TEENAGED GIRL GOT PREGNANT, SHE WOULD GET EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL AND THAT WAS DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEX.

AS A GENERAL MATTER, IT WAS A GENERAL SENSE THAT WOMEN WERE SECOND CLASS CITIZENS STILL IN 1972.

AND THAT'S WHAT WAS FOUGHT FOR WITH THE E.R.A.

AND TODAY OF COURSE, I'LL COME BACK TO THE EXAMPLE OF THE VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE, THAT SCHOOL WAS INTEGRATED BY SUPREME COURT DECISION IN 1996.

THAT WAS A SUPREME COURT DECISION MADE BASED ON THE 14th AMENDMENT EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE, NOT BASED ON THE E.R.A.

WHICH HAD NOT BEEN RATIFIED AT THAT POINT.

AND SO NOW, THE NEW GENERATION OF WOMEN ARE ASKING, DO WE STILL NEED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT WHEN ALL THESE OTHER TOOLS WERE DEVELOPED SINCE THE 1970s TO GET US TO THE POINT THAT WE ARE AT TODAY.

IS THAT, I GUESS, A FAIR QUESTION?

BECAUSE IT SEEMS AS IF, AGAIN, WITH THE 'ME TOO' MOVEMENT WE SAW COME UP IN 2017, EVEN WITH THIS WAVE OF, YOU KNOW, YOUNGER WOMEN THAT WE'RE SEEING COMING INTO OFFICE, THERE STILL CLEARLY ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT NEED TO BE MADE MORE EQUAL.

WE'RE NOT QUITE THERE YET.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND I THINK THAT IS ACTUALLY WHAT'S DRIVING THE MOVEMENT, THAT EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE LAWS THAT SAY EQUAL PAY, WE DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE EQUAL PAY.

WOMEN STILL MAKE ABOUT 80 CENTS TO THE MEN'S DOLLAR.

AND THAT'S SOME WOMEN, I WANT TO BE CLEAR, NOT ALL WOMEN ARE MAKING 80 CENTS TO A MAN'S DOLLAR.

IF YOU LOOK AT AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN AND LATINA WOMEN, THEY MAKE LESS THAN 80 CENTS TO THE MAN'S DOLLAR.

THESE ARE REALLY IMPORTANT ISSUES.

AND ALSO AS THE 'ME TOO' MOVEMENT SHOWS, A LOT OF WOMEN ARE SUBJECT TO HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE IN CONTEXTS WHERE THEY SHOULD BE TREATED AS EQUALS.

SO THESE ARE ALL PROBLEMS I THINK ARE DRIVING THE MOVEMENT.

BUT I THINK THAT THE REASON THE E.R.A. IS SO IMPORTANT NOW IS THAT EVEN THE THINGS THAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED BY OTHER MEANS, WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED IN A WORKAROUND WAY.

BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY OF AMOUNTING THE INSTITUTION, INSTEAD OF GETTING THE E.R.A., WE STRETCHED THE 14th AMENDMENT AND 16th AMENDMENT.

WE STRETCHED OTHER PARTS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

THAT'S ACTUALLY IN SOME WAYS, IT REALLY UNDERVALUES THE WORK THAT WOMEN DID AS CONSTITUTION MAKERS.

BECAUSE WOMEN FOR THE E.R.A.

AND NOT MAKING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT OFFICIAL IS A WAY OF MAKING KIND OF INVISIBLE AND WORKAROUND AND UNDERVALUED ALL OF THE AMAZING THINGS WOMEN DID TO ACTUALLY BE MOTHERS OF THE CONSTITUTION, FOUNDING MOTHERS.

IF WE DON'T ADD THIS AMENDMENT, WE'RE STILL GOING TO BE IN A PLACE WHERE WE JUST HAVE FOUNDING FATHERS AND NO FOUNDING MOTHERS.

AND I THINK IN THIS COUNTRY WE HAVE THIS TENDENCY TO REALLY REVERE OUR FOUNDING FATHERS, MANY OF WHOM WERE BRILLIANT BUT ALSO FLAWED MEN, MANY OF THEM HELD SLAVES, FOR EXAMPLE.

SO WE REVERE THESE INSTITUTIONS CREATED BY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS AND WE'VE CREATED AN AMENDMENT PROCESS THAT'S EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.

AND I THINK WOMEN HAVE REALLY PERSISTED FOR AT LEAST A HUNDRED YEARS IF NOT LONGER TO WRITE THEIR EQUAL RIGHTS INTO THE CONSTITUTION.

AND BECAUSE WOMEN HAVE BEEN SO RESILIENT AND RESOURCEFUL, THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO ACHIEVE SOME OF THOSE LEGAL REMEDIES THROUGH OTHER MEANS.

BUT THERE REALLY IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HAVING OFFICIAL RECOGNITION IN THE CONSTITUTION OF WOMEN'S EQUAL CITIZENSHIP.

SPEAKING OF SPEAKING OF INDIVIDUALS, YOUR BOOK GETS INTO A LOT OF STORIES, PARTICULARLY OF THE SUFFRAGETTES.

OF COURSE THE 19th AMENDMENT AND THE INTRODUCTION OF THE E.R.A., THE GREAT GAINS THEY MADE.

BUT YOU ALSO DON'T LET THEM OFF THE HOOK BY ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THEY DID HAVE SOME SHORTCOMINGS PARTICULARLY AROUND ISSUES OF RACE.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO ALICE PAUL IS OFTEN CREDITED WITH WRITING THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT ALTHOUGH SHE DIDN'T DO IT BY HERSELF.

AND SHE'S ALSO PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SUFFRAGISTS BECAUSE SHE WAS VERY IN YOUR FACE AND WAS A CRUCIAL FIGURE IN GETTING SUFFRAGE WHEN WE DID IN 1920.

OF COURSE GETTING THINGS DONE IN A PARTICULAR POLITICAL MOMENT REQUIRES CERTAIN POLITICAL COMPROMISES.

AND I THINK ONE OF THE STORIES THAT I TELL IN THE BOOK IS ABOUT HOW ALICE PAUL, WHEN SHE ORGANIZED A BIG ATTENTION-GETTING 1913 SUFFRAGE PARADE, THERE WAS THIS QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN WHO WERE ALSO STRUGGLING FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS TO VOTE SHOULD BE FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE PARADE.

AND I THINK ALICE PAUL HAD TO MAKE A POLITICAL CALCULATION ABOUT HOW SHE WAS GOING TO HOLD TOGETHER A COALITION OF WHITE SOUTHERN WOMEN.

SHE WAS AFRAID THEY WOULD NOT MARCH IF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN WERE FULLY INTEGRATED.

AND AS A RESULT, SHE ASKED THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN'S GROUPS TO MARCH AT THE BACK.

AND SOME AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN DID.

AND OTHERS JUST INTEGRATE THEMSELVES.

LIKE IDA WELLS, SHE JUST INTEGRATED HERSELF.

I'M SURE SHE DID.

AND I THINK THIS HISTORY IS REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS ASKED THE QUESTION, WELL, IF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BEGAN WITH ALICE PAUL, AND THERE WERE THESE CHOICES THAT SHE MADE AROUND AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN, HOW SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT WHAT THE E.R.A. MEANS TODAY IN THE CONTEXT OF RACIAL JUSTICE AND POST CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR NONWHITE WOMEN OF COLOR.

THE ONE REAL TURNING POINT YOU SEE IN THE 1940s HAVING TO DO WITH A LOT OF FACTORS INCLUDING WORLD WAR II AND THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER, IS THE SUPPORT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COLORED WOMEN AND MARY CHURCH CARROLL, AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN SUFFRAGETTE COMING OUT IN SUPPORT OF CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS FOR THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.

THEN IN THE EARLY 1970s, SHIRLEY CHISOLM, THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN IN CONGRESS AND ALSO RAN FOR PRESIDENT IN 1972, SHE AND PATSY MINK, THE FIRST ASIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN ELECTED TO CONGRESS IN 1964, THEY REALLY BECOME HUGE SUPPORTERS OF THE E.R.A. IN THE FLOOR DEBATES THAT LEAD TO THE E.R.A. BEING ADOPTED BY CONGRESS.

AND THEY REALLY FOCUS ON ISSUES THAT AFFECT WORKING WOMEN AND WOMEN OF COLOR, INCLUDING ISSUES OF LACK OF ACCESS TO CHILDCARE LEADING TO WOMEN BEING DENIED EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES.

I THINK BECAUSE THOSE FOUNDING MOTHERS, IF YOU WILL, REALLY DREW ATTENTION TO THE WHOLE RANGE OF ISSUES INCLUDING INTERSECTIONAL ISSUES IN THE 1970s, THAT'S PART OF WHAT THE E.R.A. IS NOW.

AND THEN FAST FORWARDING TO THE LAST THREE YEARS, WHEN NEVADA, ILLINOIS, AND VIRGINIA RATIFIED THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT, THOSE STATE LEGISLATURES, WHEN THEY RATIFIED, THOSE BILLS, THOSE RATIFICATION BILLS, WERE LED BY WOMEN OF COLOR IN THOSE STATES.

SO IN NEVADA THERE WAS A SENATOR WHO PLAYED A LEADING ROLE.

IN VIRGINIA THERE WAS JENNIFER McCLELLAN AND JENNIFER FOY, AND IN ILLINOIS THERE WERE WOMEN OF ALL DIFFERENT COLORS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN SPONSORING THE BILL.

AND SO I THINK ALL OF THIS SHOWS THAT SO MUCH OF THE E.R.A.'S STORY IS ABOUT WOMEN COMING INTO THEIR OWN AND DOING IT IN A WAY THAT'S INCLUSIVE.

UNFORTUNATELY WE'LL HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

THE BOOK IS 'THE WOMEN: THE UNSTOPPABLE MOTHERS OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.'

JULIE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

ABSOLUTELY.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY JUDY AND JOSH WESTON DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪

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