Equal Rights Amendment Focus of Daemen-Hosted Event

By | September 28, 2021

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced to Congress in 1923. An event at Daemen on Saturday will explore aspects of the ERA—including why the amendment is not enshrined in the Constitution nearly a century later.  

Sally Roesch Wagner

Sally Roesch Wagner

The event will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that empowered women to vote.  

The college’s History and Political Science Department is partnering with a number of prominent organizations to present “From Suffrage to the ERA: Equity, Resiliency, Activism” on Daemen’s campus. 

The free event takes place Oct. 2, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Wick Social Room, and is open to students and the general public. Registration is required for both in-person and remote attendance (via Zoom). 

The event includes a keynote address by Sally Roesch Wagner, a well-known public intellectual, speaker and author of several books on the women’s rights movement. 

Throughout the morning, breakout sessions will explore the history, significance, and potential impact of the ERA—which has not substantively changed in nearly a century; its current wording reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” 

Though approved by Congress in 1972, the amendment remains without the necessary number of ratifications by state legislatures.

Penny Messinger

Penny Messinger

“The ERA has been seen as a litmus test for women’s rights, but it’s also been regarded as having mostly symbolic importance in recent decades,” said Penny Messinger, associate professor of history and chair of the History and Political Science Department.

“With this event, we’re seeking to connect past, present, and future issues related to women’s rights and equality in American society—including how women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said Messinger, who is also director of the Women’s Studies Program at Daemen.

A panel discussion will follow Roesch Wagner’s keynote and address specific issues that impede the pursuit of full equality by women, including: economic inequality, violence against women, women’s health and reproductive justice, and the underrepresentation of women in government. 

There will be opportunities for the audience—whether in person or attending remotely—to participate in question-and-answer periods throughout the morning.

Panelists include Karen King (Erie County Commission of Public Advocacy); Ava Thomas (Family Justice Center); Shanaz Tejani-Butt (professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia); and Diana Cihak (founder of WomenElect and WEPac).

The corporate sponsor of the event is the West Herr Auto Group. Partners of the Western New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee (WNYWSCCC), organized by the League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara, are: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Gamma Phi Omega Chapter), AAUW Buffalo Branch, Buffalo & Erie County Central Library, the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, NYS Women Inc. – Region VIII, UB Gender Institute, Women’s Auxiliary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Western New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Bar Association of the state of New York, and Zonta Club of Buffalo.