One of the questions asked, especially by opponents of the ERA, is what it can do for women that isn’t already possible. There is a sense that the protections that the ERA would extend to people are already possible and/or present. That’s certainly not the case, though.
One of the most important things that the Equal Rights Amendment can do is explicitly include women in the constitution. Women aren’t currently mentioned anywhere in the language of the constitution (Bleiweis). As Grace Bowie talks about in her blog post, developing inclusive language can normalize equality between genders and help change the perception of men’s roles and women’s roles.
There are also more concrete things the Equal Rights Amendment could do to help women (and, perhaps, anyone who isn’t a cisgender, straight man). One of the best examples of this is the Violence Against Women Act. An original provision of the VAWA included the ability for victims to sue their abusers in federal court, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court as being outside the purview of Congress. But encoding equal rights and protection for women into the constitution could open the door for similar provisions to be put in place, and create pathways for more victims to get justice (Bleiweis). As Ashley Weldon talks about in her blog, the lack of avenues for women to speak about their experiences with gender-based violence is part of what stops gender-based violence from being properly acknowledged and combatted. Enshrining women’s equal status in the Constitution could go a long way towards helping combat issues such as gender-based violence in the US.
Bleiweis, Robin. “The Equal Rights Amendment: What You Need To Know.” Center for American Progress, 29 Jan. 2020, 4:05pm, www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/01/29/479917/equal-rights-amendment-need-know/.