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Equality Legislation - E.R.A and Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action is a policy that favours groups who have suffered from discrimination in the past (or still do),
especially in areas of employment and education. The groups may be discriminated by gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc. The concept of affirmative action is that positive steps should be taken to ensure equality, instead of ignoring discrimination or waiting for society to fix itself. Affirmative action becomes controversial when it is perceived as giving preference to minorities or women over other qualified candidates.
E.R.A., or the The “Equal Rights Amendment” was suggested to the U.S. Constitution, declaring that Civil Rights cannot be denied due to a citizen’s sex.
Affirmative Action in Canada
In the early stages of the movement towards equality in Canada, there was employment statutes in most Canadian jurisdictions which prohibited racial and religious discrimination and prescribed equal pay for men and women.”Equal opportunity” was one of the first concepts commonly used to define equality in employment for all Canadians. Equal Opportunity was based on the notion that if discrimination in employment ended, all Canadians would have equal access to equal employment opportunities. However, Equal Opportunity programs did not result in any significant redistribution in the employment of disadvantaged group members in the Canadian workforce. Towards the 70‘s increased pressure from women and minority groups led federal, provincial and municipal governments to establish special programs to improve the employment situation of these groups.And by 1977 the parliament enacted the Canadian Human Rights Act.It applied to federal and federally regulated bodies and aimed to protect Canadians from discrimination based on any of the 10 grounds: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted. A year later the federal government launched a voluntary Affirmative Action Program, which years later, 1986, turned into “The Employment Equality Act” which we have to this day.
In 1923, Alice Paul - head of the National Women’s Party - introduced the E.R.A., a constitutional amendment, to congress. This was 3 years after women got the right to vote in America. The amendment remained in congress until it was defeated by the full senate in 1946. Four years later in 1950, the senate passed the amendment, but included in it a rider that disallowed the equal protection aspects of the E.R.A. In 1967, the National Organization for Women promised to fight for the full and complete validation of the E.R.A. In 1971, the amendment was approved without changes by the United States House of representatives, with a vote of 354 to 24. On March 22nd, 1972, the E.R.A. was approved by the senate without any further changes, with a vote of 84 to 8.
The E.R.A. now
Despite being approved by the senate, it is necessary for the E.R.A. to be sanctioned by 38 states.To this day, only 35 of the necessary 38 states have ratified the amendment. This means that If 3 more states recognize E.R.A., it may become the 28th amendment to the Constitution. It has taken decades to finalize the approval of an equality rights amendment to the constitution - this provides insight onto the priorities of the American government.
Steps towards equality(U.S)
The term "affirmative action" was first introduced by J.F.K. in 1961, as an attempt to compensate for the discrimination that occurred throughout the United States, despite civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees of equal treatment. It was at first meant to be a temporary fix to “level the playing field” of employability/education in America, but became a more permanent part of the United States. By the late 1970s flaws in the policy became evident - primarily reverse discrimination.
Support for Affirmative Action
The main principle of affirmative action is to compensate for the socioeconomically disadvantaged groups of visible minorities or other groups who have often been oppressed throughout the course of history - an example is blacks, or women. Affirmative action offers a preferential treatment to these and other disadvantaged people, as well as creating equality in pay and employment, access to education, enriching society with the opinion and leadership of society’s full spectrum, and to remedy past wrongs and injustice.
Affirmative Action leads to reverse discrimination - employment/educations are not based on legitimate qualifications and requirements but rather on race and sex (hiring blacks over whites is no better than hiring whites over blacks, neither is hiring women over men, rather than men over women). It demeans true minority achievement and success is labeled as result of affirmative action rather than hard work, abilities and qualifications. It is also condescending to minorities to say they need the affirmative action in order to succeed.
We believe in the good intentions of affirmative actions - but unfortunately those intentions are overshadowed by the flaws of the policy.The ERA was a very important movement for women’s rights - there is no reason for women to be hindered from having the same access to employability as men, and to have their constitutional rights hypocritically taken away in these aspects.
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