Three Ways to Honor Betty Ford’s Legacy

Betty FordFuneral services begin today for former First Lady Betty Ford who passed away Friday at the age of 93. Here are three ways we can honor Ford’s incredible legacy.

1. Support the Equal Rights Amendment. Ford was a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. She marched and rallied in support of the amendment which still has not been ratified.

The Equal Rights Amendment was written in 1923 and took 49 years to pass Congress but it was never ratified because not enough states supported it and Congress sets a time limit for ratification. Last month Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Robert Menendez re-introduced the Equal Rights Amendment. As Maloney said in a press release, “The Equal Rights Amendment is still needed because the only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the U.S. is to write it into the constitution.  Making women’s equality a constitutional right—after Congress passes and 38 states ratify the ERA—would place the United States on record, albeit more than 200 years late, that women are fully equal in the eyes of the law.” Urge your representatives to support the bill.

2. Support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Ford was also a supporter of equal pay, an issue she said she became sensitive to while caring for and supporting her first husband, when he was unable to work.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was rejected by the Senate last fall but reintroduced this year by Senator Mikulski and Rep. DeLauro.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote in the Huffington Post that the Paycheck Fairness Act, “would prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for sharing salary information with their co-workers. The legislation would also establish training groups to help women strengthen their negotiation skills, enforce equal pay laws for federal contractors, and require the Department of Labor to work with employers to eliminate wage disparities through better outreach and training.” Contact your representatives and ask them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

3. Help remove the stigma of addiction and illness. Perhaps Ford’s greatest legacy was her founding of the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California in 1982. She was a brave advocate for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction after she was treated for chemical dependency and she recognized the need for gender-specific treatment programs.

Ford set an example for people suffering from addiction to seek help and made it safer for women, especially, to admit to having a problem.  She was also one of the first women to discuss breast cancer openly. We can honor her life and her work by continuing the dialogue on issues affecting women.

1 comment for “Three Ways to Honor Betty Ford’s Legacy

  1. July 14, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Betty Ford was an amazing woman. If I was living in the USA I would be writing so many letters, but unfortunately I do not think state representatives care much about what a random Canadian thinks, so I urge you all to make up for this for me. Maybe we can see the Equal Rights Amendment put into place by 2013, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, too (I would love to see that here).

    I am clinically depressed. I come from a family of addiction sufferers. I am acutely aware of the stigma surrounding addiction and mental illness, and I sincerely hope for a day when this is not such an issue.

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