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(4) States urged to declare a similar policy and conform their laws and practices to it.
6. Isn't there enough information around already?
No. Distinctions between men and women in Federal and State laws hare been listed in congressional hearings and in legal studies. Some of these distinctions are good and some bad. It is to evaluate these that a commission is needed. · No such evaluation has been attempted in our United States history.
7. Is the women's status bill a substitute for the equal-rights amendment ?
No. It is an entirely new approach. It is designed to rectify specific laws and practices at appropriate Federal, State, and local levels.
8. How about time? Which will be faster?
The legal-status bill. This bill provides that immediately upon passa ge by Congress (majority vote) the proposed policy will be effective for the Federal Government, which must immediately reform administrative practices insofar as laws permit; the Commission must report within a year its recommendations for further legislation needed ; States are urged to prompt action.
For an amendment, congressional approval (two-thirds of both Houses is only the first step; it must then be ratified by 36 States (no one knows whether 36 will), 3 years must elapse; if States have not revised laws to match, such laws must then be challenged by individual citizens in the courts and specific rectification be sought in State legislatures or Congress.
9. But isn't an amendment more permanent than a law?
No. The eighteenth amendment (Prohibition) was adopted in 1919, repealed 1933, and failed of enforcement through much of this period. Fundamentally, correction and enforcement of specific laws, and customs as well, can go forward only so rapidly as the local population believes in such changes. Information is the first essential for this, and the Commission provided by the status bill can furnish it.
10. Does the status bill preclude an amendment?
The bill follows the direct "specific bills for specific ills" procedure, for which an amendment to the Constitution is not necessary. However, this Commission is free to recommend an amendment to the Constitution as one phase of the rectification of Federal and State laws if it finds reason to do so.
11. Do women workers need minimum-wage laws, legal legislation of hours of work, and similar legislation?
The so-called “protective laws” are designed to give women a more nearly equal chance to get jobs and protect their position in the working world ; in other words, to equalize women's bargaining power as gainful workers. Most wage earners feel the need of minimum-wage, maximum-hour, and similar laws, especially for women, since there are large numbers of unorganized women in the labor market and the traditional pay scales for women tend to be lower, thereby making them potential wage cutters.
12. How about equal pay?
The Commission would be expected to study this issue and make recommendations. Contrary to some assumptions, the proposed equal-rights amendment would not bring equal pay. Specific legislation is required, both State and Federal, for equal pay.
REMARKS OF HON. FRANCES P. BOLTON, CONGRESSWOMAN OF THE TWENTY-SECOND
Mr. Chairman, I am happy to have an opportunity to testify to my sense of rightness and sanity of the bill which is before you. The whole matter of the position of women before the law has become one of the steps toward the freedom envisioned by the United Nations. As signatories, we Americans must move in the direction of equal opportunity and equal legal status,
For many years there has been introduced into each succeeding Congress an amendment that proposes to set up equal rights. I have never been able to agree with this particular suggested solution.
A year ago a bill was introduced to set up a Commission to study the situation. Such Commission would make a very careful study of the status of women and report back. Frankly, I like to act upon facts that have been arrived at only after careful and judicious study. I want to know first just what discriminations do exist, as well as secure definite knowledge of the standards involved. I would regret a course of action which would fall short of the real goal.
Once the facts are collected, the different states will have a sound basis on which they may proceed to bring their laws into accord with the expressed desire of the United States as a member of the family of nations. It is, therefore, my hope that this honorable committee will report favorably H. R. 2007.
New York, February 13, 1948. Hon. JOHN M. ROBSION, Chairman, House Judiciary Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. ROBSION : I greatly favor the women's status bill, H. R. 2007, as setting up the surest and soundest means of dealing with the present legal discriminations against women.
I believe this bill approaches this Nation-wide problem with a far more realistic program than does the equal-rights amendment. May I ask that my statement be included in the written record ? Yours very truly,
SARAH GIBSON BLANDING.
WASHINGTON, D. C. March 8, 1948. Hon. CHAUNCEY W. REED, Chairman, Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington 25, D. C. DEAR MR. REED: As the records of previous hearings indicate, the Women's National Homeopathic Medical Fraternity has always been opposed to the socalled equal-rights amendment. The situation in regard to this amendement has not changed, and I want at this point to reiterate the importance we attach to its dangers.
As doctors, we are naturally concerned for the best possible uses of scientific progress in relation to the health of all persons, including women. Women, because of their different physical structure, require medical services and treatment of many types different from men. Their life span and physical experience also differs in many other ways. The services required for maternity care are only a part of the range of special medical attention which women should have. It therefore seems to us that our laws and our law-making bodies should be in a position to make full use of new discoveries and new resources for the welfare of the health of women throughout their lives.
The language of the equal-rights amendment is so vague that it is not clear what legal distinctions, if any, would be considered constitutional under it. The Women's National Homeopathic Medical Fraternity has always favored equal status for women and the greatest possible effort on the part of Government agencies and the community for their welfare. The women's status bill, H. R. 2007, seems to us a realistic measure to remove discriminations which remain in our laws without limiting the power of Congress and of the States to make laws which take account of the fundamental differences between men and women on which special legislation may be needed. We favor immediate and favorable action by Congress on this bill.
Let me say further than we are members of the national committee on the status of women, and associate ourselves fully with the statements presented by them on this issue. Sincerely yours,
JULIA M. GREEN, M, D., Womens National Homeopathic Medical Fraternity.
STATEMENT OF THE WOMAN'S DIVISION OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE OF THE METHODIST CHURCH REGARDING THE WOMEN'S STATUS BILL AND THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT, SUBMITTED BY Miss ELEANOR NEFF
The woman's division of Christian service of the Methodist Church, the policymaking body of 1,442,421 organized Methodist women, has always been concerned about the welfare and status of women.
In order to make possible the maximum progress of women in economic, civil, social and political life, we must remove unjust discriminations. In order to implement our commitment to the United Nations, particularly as related to its
declared purpose “to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions as to
sex," it is appropriate that we bring our national and State laws and practices into conformity with those principles.
On the basis of available facts concerning legislative proposals directed toward the effective removal of unreasonable discrimination against women in laws and administrative practices, we have opposed the equal rights amendment (December 1944) and favored the women's status bill (H. R. 2007 and Senate Joint Resolution 67, June 17, 1947).
While it is urgent that unfair legal discrimination against women be eliminated, there is a vast body of legislation primarily protective in nature, that should be preserved.
We have consistently supported measures which limit the number of hours women may work, require minimum wages and provide other forms of protection for their health and efficiency; and laws that would strengthen family stability.
Laws placing upon a husband primary responsibility for family support, laws providing for widows' pensions, maternity benefits, etc., have always been held justified by society as a whole. Because women have a role of great importance as mothers and homemakers, these protective laws for women are in the general welfare. They are important to all of us.
The proposal to establish legislative equality between the sexes by an amendment to the Constitution is impractical and undesirable. It would throw hundreds of current laws into question, and would open up a period of extreme confusion in constitutional law. The enactment of the measure would provide a legal basis for an attack on all specialized legislation designed to safeguard women in industry and the home, their property rights, etc., along with those laws that are unfairly discriminatory.
In contrast to the amendment procedure, the women's status bill offers clear, positive, and quick action. It declares that it is the policy of the United States that "no distinction on the basis of sex shall be made except such as are reasonably justified by differences in physical structure, biological or social functions." Immediately upon the enactment of this bill, the Federal Government would be required to bring their regulations into conformity with this policy, to the extent existing legislation permits.
The rethinking and orderly review of the status of women today is urgently needed. This bill would establish a Commission which would have the duty of studying and reporting on all phases of the legal, economic, and social status of women in the United States today. It would review and evaluate all the significant differences on the legal treatment of the sexes in this country, and would determine which are discriminatory in the light of declared policy. It would report its conclusions and recommendations for legislation to the President.
Since most laws discriminating against women are found on the State level, this bill urges that the States declare a similar policy, and that they review their laws and practices and bring them into conformity with the declared policy. In other words, this bill would effectively rectify specific laws and practices at appropriate Federal, State, and local levels.
In summary, we favor the woman's status bill because it is an affirmative response to the United Nations Charter; because it provides an orderly review of legislation to remove discrimination against women, recognizing that certain distinctions in law are valuable to women, whileothers should be removed promptly; because it commits Congress to appropriate legislation and practices; and because it provides standards and a precedent for the States to follow if they so desire.
STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN ON THE STATUS
OF WOMEN BILL H. R. 2007, TO THE SUBCOMITTEE OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
(Submitted by Miss Marjorie L. Temple, Legislative Program Associate) The American Association of University Women, through its established democratic procedures, in 1947 endorsed the bill H. R. 2007, the so-called status of women bill, under its legislative program item which provides :
"Support of the principle of women's fullest participation in all social, economic, and political life, with safeguards for the health, safety, and general welfare of women."
Since its founding in 1882, the American Association of University Women has worked for universal recognition of the right of women to participate in all phases of our social and economic life. Believing firmly that no social order can function properly without the full participation of all its members regardless of sex, the association has long sought to eliminate those legal discriminations which work to the detriment of women and deny them the right to exercise their privileges and duties as citizens.
The association has recognized that full participation of women in the economic and social life of the community should not and must not result in identity of the sexes before the law. There are certain laws which the States have passed in recognition of the special function of women as childbearers and homemakers. These laws are aimed to protect women because they must sacrifice their place in the economic world, for a short period of time at least, when they bear children and seek to rear them. In the eyes of the State, the child is the important object of protection since he represents the State's continued existence. The source of this continued existence is therefore protected by the laws of each State according to the views of that State.
It is at this State level that discriminations exist in law and in fact. It must, therefore, be at the State level that these discriminations are eradicated where they are unjust, and maintained or extended where they are necessary for the good of society as a whole. H. R. 2007, the so-called status bill, is an attempt to do this. It does not seek a blanket reform of all laws affecting women, but it provides for a thorough study and survey of such laws, to discover those which unreasonably discriminate against women on the basis of sex and then calls upon the States to correct them.
The American Association of University Women represents a membership of approximately 98,000 women college graduates in 1,028 branches throughout the United States. Our members are in all branches of the professions, in private industry, in government, and in international affairs. Many of them successfully combine homemaking and a career, and many of them as homemakers are contributing largely of themselves to community life. It is in these capacities that they are constantly encountering unjust discriminatory laws and practices which restrict their participation as citizens and which create for them many real hardships. H. R. 2007 would, we believe, eventually eliminate many of these hardships without removing the benefits which have been gained through individual laws enacted for their physical and economic well-being as individual women and as mothers.
Over a period of 25 years women have gained many rights denied them under the old common law, but they still have far to go before they are fully accepted as equally capable citizens with men. During this time many women have fought ardently for an equal-rights amendment to the Federal Constitution, believing that this was the only way to secure for women the equality they seek. This association has been, and will continue to be, opposed to any equal-rights amendment which does not provide for the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of women. The equal-rights amendment, as it now exists, would exclude such protection and would, we believe, be a backward step.
While this association is not willing to go as far as the supporters of the equal. rights amendment, it would like to go further than H. R. 2007, in that this bill is not an "action" bill: it would only recommend necessary legislation to the States. H. R. 2007 is a step in the right direction, however, since any Nation-wide survey of State laws and administrative practices would focus attention on some of the very unjust laws and practices which exist, and would hasten the process of bringing the State laws in line with progressive philosophy and practices.
As this committee has already received much information on existing unjust discriminatory laws and the effects, pro and con, of an equal-rights amendment, the American Association of University Women feels that any remarks on the specific legal implications of existing laws or the proposed amendment would be repetitious. It is the conviction of the association that many of the hardships encountered by women are the result of the unthinking attitudes, of men and women alike, toward social and economic developments which are affecting the position of women in the modern world.
We believe that H. R. 2007, by calling attention to these problems and exposing injustices, will stimulate clearer thinking on the part of people generally with regard to these questions and result in corrective efforts.
STATEMENTS ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL BOARD OF THE YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN
ASSOCIATIONS, BY MRS. ARTHUR FORREST ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, ON HEARING ON H. R. 2007, THE STATUS OF WOMEN, BEFORE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, FEBRUARY 19, 1948
The national board of the Young Women's Christian Associations welcomes this opportunity to express its support of H. R. 2007 on the legal status of women. The board believes that the Commission provided for in the bill would be able to expose unreasonable discrimination and direct legislative action against such discrimination.
The YWCA ielieves that H. R. 2007 is in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations with regard to the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people.
For many years the YWCA has been opposed to the so-called equal rights amendment believing that it would automatically remove certain laws made for the protection of women. Our interest in securing just legislation on human rights has been based largely upon the actual experience of our own members and the exploitation which as women they have experienced in their working lives. The provisions of H. R. 2007 offer a sound method of dealing with the intricate problem of securing justice for women; (1) By establishing a commission on the legal status of women in the United States, to declare a policy as to distinctions based on sex, in law and administration and for other purposes, and (2) by enacting legislation which shall establish the policy of the United States in law and its administration that no distinctions on the basis of sex shall be made except such as are reasonably based by differences in physical structure, biological, or social function. The exceptions are important and such exceptions would have to be taken into consideration in legislation affecting women. Under an equal-rights amendment to the Constitution it would be extremely difficult to maintain present protective legislation or to enact new laws that would take into consideration the physical, biological, or social function of women.
The procedure of amending the Constitution and interpreting each new law in terms of the amendment might take years. H. R. 2007 would immediately make possible selective legislation to eliminate unreasonable discrimination against women, and would set up a Commission to "make a full and complete study, investigation, and review of the nature and extent of discriminations based on sex throughout the United States, its Territories, and possessions." A blanket statement about "equality" is meaningless without such facts as the Commission could supply.
By following this procedure the United States would truly be providing enlightened leadership to other nations of the world which are struggling with similar problems. Other countries are seeking ways to bring women into full citizenship status, to provide equal opportunities for education and vocational training, and opportunities for employment based upon individual ability, and equality of remuneration according to the nature of the work that is done.
The YWCA is interested in the health and well-being of all workers, but we have a special concern for women and girls in the United States and throughout the world. There are YWCA members in 69 countries and they are all concerned about the status of women as workers, wives, and mothers. Many of these women are young working wives or heads of families. The economic and moral well-being of their families depends upon their remaining healthy. They are willing to carry their full share of responsibility as workers, parents, and citizens, and to that extent to be the "equals" of men. At the same time, their biological and social functions are different from men's. With respect to their responsibility for rearing children and providing a decent home life they often have a greater responsibility than men have. The war left many countries with a great shortage of men, placing upon women the full responsibility as heads of families. The resulting problems are too great to be swept aside, by a mere statement on "equality.” The problems demand thorough study in each country, and the United States should lead the way in removing legal and administrative bars to the employment of women but, at the same time, preserving protective legislation to which they are entitled as human beings.
The rational board, therefore, urges passage of H. R. 2007 to set into motion as quickly as possible the work of the Commission and to establish a policy based upon justice to women with full recognition of their functions in society.