Since she was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 1993, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has immersed herself in women’s issues.
As lead House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and author of the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, which was recently signed into law, Maloney spoke on the House floor Wednesday in celebration of Women’s History Month.
She highlighted the ERA, the forthcoming Smithsonian Women’s History Museum, and the achievements women across the country have made in the advancement of equality.
“In 1921 — exactly 100 years ago, just after ratifying the 19th Amendment, the suffragists set their sights on another constitutional change. The vote was not enough for them; they knew we needed to put gender equality into our Constitution. And so, these women — among them [my] relative, Alice Paul — wrote the Equal Rights Amendment,” Maloney said. “It was first introduced in Congress in 1923, in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in our country. It was introduced in the House by Representative Daniel Anthony, nephew of the great suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony, to honor her work, as well as the work of many others like the great suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, also of New York.
“Today, during History Month for Women, we honor these women as constitution makers, but verbal praise alone is not enough,” she said. “We must also carry out their wishes. Because now — a full 100 years later— the Equal Rights Amendment is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.”
Later that day, the House approved legislation to remove the arbitrary deadline imposed on the ERA.
“The suffragists knew specific language was needed in the Constitution in order to achieve equality of rights under the law. And they were right,” Maloney said. “For the last four generations, feminists like myself and all the like-minded men and women here today have been marching, lobbying, attempting to win lawsuits and defeating anti-ERA legislators. And today, we say enough is enough.”
Earlier this month, Maloney announced a milestone for the proposed Smithsonian Women’s History Museum on the National Mall. Lisa Sasaki was appointed to serve as the interim director of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.
“After more than two decades of working to pass legislation establishing a museum dedicated to American women’s history, it was finally signed into law in December,” Maloney said. “It is incredible to see the museum begin to come to fruition, and strong leadership will be essential to its success. I congratulate Lisa Sasaki on her appointment and look forward to working with her to ensure that the museum has the support from Congress that it needs.”
Last fall, Maloney was elected as permanent chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, making her the first woman ever to take the gavel of the powerful panel.