Content starts here

One Thing Boomers Didn't Get Right (But Still Can)

ERA protest march for AARP article

2014 is a pivotal year for boomers: It's when the last wave of us - that is, those born from 1946 to 1964 - turn 50.

To spotlight this cultural sea change, AARP is staging a number of events, including Life@50+ celebrations in Boston (May 8-10) and San Diego (Sept. 4-6).

The advocacy group also created this short video to put the accomplishments - and people - of this generation in focus:

As a boomer born in 1956, I'm proud to be part of the largest demographic in the history of the world. Together, I believe we will continue to make great strides in all aspects of life.

One of this generation's signal achievements was that we took action when it was required. Since the first wave of boomers came of marching age, we have protested inequities ranging from the racial to the political to the sexual. Many new laws were enacted as a result, and social justice became our rallying cry.

So ... what happened to us?

Women - and many men - marched to demand rights for women, only to see the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) fall short of Congressional ratification in 1972.

First proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, the ERA uses simple language to avow that women and men have - or rather should have - legal parity:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Many people don't realize the ERA was never ratified. Recently, I asked 10 random people of both genders, all of them over 50, to tell me what year Congress passed the ERA. All 10 hemmed and hawed before coming up with wildly diverging dates. Not one of them knew it had never passed; not one knew that women's rights are not yet protected in the eyes of the law.

One popular notion holds that the ERA is an outdated concept advanced by the first wave of feminists in the 1960s. The truth is that the Equal Rights Amendment has never been more needed than it is today. Compared with their male counterparts across all employment sectors, women continue to be undervalued, underemployed and underpaid: They earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man - an imbalance assailed by President Obama during his State of the Union address.

Women are still unjustly penalized for staying home to care for their children, especially when they later try to reenter the workforce. Compounding  the problem, women typically bear the brunt of caring for aging or ill parents and other family members.

Is this fair?

If you think not, get your boomer on - and get busy: Don't let our legacy become one of getting things only halfway right!

I'd love to hear from you! Just type your questions or ideas about living your best life after 50 in the comments section below. And connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and my AARP blogs.  A final request: Please let me know what you'd like to see in future episodes of "The Best of Everything After 50."


Photo credit: Jo Freeman

Search AARP Blogs