FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of Women’s History Month, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a bill that would posthumously bestow women right’s leader Alice Paul with a Congressional Gold Medal. From Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Alice Paul inspired others globally, including by staging a hunger strike to protest unequal rights for women.
“Alice Paul’s inspiring legacy reverberates far beyond the borders of my home state – she inspired a nation and brought about revolutionary changes for women all around the world,” said Sen. Menendez. “I absolutely believe a Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting honor for the person who stood tall for women’s rights her whole life. Alice Paul’s perseverance for gender equality teaches each subsequent generation that justice is worth fighting for.”
“The Alice Paul Institute in Mt. Laurel NJ honors the legacy of Alice Paul’s work for gender equality through education and leadership development,” said Lucienne Beard, Executive Director of the Alice Paul Institute. “We are very pleased that Senator Menendez and Senator Collins have re-introduced the Alice Paul Congressional Gold Medal Act. Alice Paul is a hero of the civil rights movement, helping American women win the right to vote and then working for full legal equality through the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Her influence was felt around the world. Honoring her with a Gold Medal is a fitting tribute, particularly as we approach the year 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
Alice Paul started the National Women’s Party and was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Paul, a devout Quaker, not only led her fellow suffragists on a three-week long hunger strike, but also organized one of the first groups ever to picket the White House. In 1923 Paul wrote the 24 words that would become the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), to enshrine in the Constitution the equal protection under the law regardless of a person’s sex. The ERA passed Congress in 1972, but failed to be ratified by a sufficient number of states. For the last five Congresses, Senator Menendez has sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment in the Senate, including last year alongside Senator Booker, and is committed to working to get equal rights for women guaranteed in the Constitution.
Additionally, Paul’s resolve led to the inclusion of sexual discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though best known for her endless work toward ratifying the 19th Amendment, she also fought for gender equality around the world. Her efforts facilitated the establishment of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and she played a crucial role in the placement of a passage on gender equality in the preamble of the United Nations Charter.