Monday, dozens of women of the Charleston community and I gathered at Mount Pleasant Town Hall. As we walked through the impressive glass doors of the massive town building and strode through the metal detector, there was an anticipatory buzz in the air. We knew we were there with fellow Charlestonians excited about the information to come.
The event was hosted by the Charleston chapter of a group called Ideas Into Action, led by Jessica Boylston. This group boasts its role as an educational outreach organization. They bring together Charleston-area residents, local non-profits, and area leaders by hosting regular meetings and events. Through these instances, the group hopes to increase awareness and inspire action surrounding civic issues.
Increase awareness, inspire action
The issue topic of Monday’s gathering? “Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment Now More Than Ever.” The vast, comfortable, auditorium-style room was full of women. These women were of many different ages and backgrounds. The information and conversation session went smoothly, it began with a short welcome from Jessica Boylston. Then, speaker Barbara Fry gave a media presentation which included a short history of our country’s legislation in relation to women, like the successful battle for the women’s right to vote earned in 1920. The following majority of the presentation regarded the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA states “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This sentiment was established at the first Women’s’ Rights National Convention and has never been amended to the Constitution to this day. Legislation regarding the notion of equality between men and women has come and gone over the years in multiple states but those in support of ERA feel such equality should be constitutional and therefore unwavering.
“We all have skin in this game.” -Barbara Fry
Following the presentation, a group of 4 women panelists hosted a question and answer session. The panel consisted of 1 ERA activist, 2 different Charleston women’s groups’ Executive Directors, and 1 Charleston County Council committee chair. See the admirable panelists’ profiles below to learn more about the fascinating women working in our community.
Before this event, I was not completely aware of the condition of legislation in our country and state regarding women. However, after the meeting I felt enlightened and more capable of forming my own stance of an educated opinion. It was an inspiring and important experience. Many people, myself wholeheartedly included, become bogged down and wrapped up in day-to-day responsibilities. I received the amazing chance yesterday to lift my chin out of the mire for just an hour and a half and glimpse the bigger world around me. Even if in some small way, it felt good to have listened and learned from the women in our community.
If you would like to know more about the yet-to-be-passed Equal Rights Amendment, Ideas Into Action recommends viewing the documentary titled “Equal Means Equal.” Find out more on their website here.
Want to get in on the conversation?
Barbara Fry | ERA activist, administrator of Equal Means ERA / Charleston
LaVandra Brown | Executive Director of Young Women’s Christian Association / Greater Charleston
Lisa Dabney | Executive Director of Center for Women / Charleston
Jennet Alterman | City of Charleston Commission on Women Chair
Written by Paige Hardy