Fort Rucker celebrates Women's Equality Day
August 16, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 16, 2012) -- Fort Rucker's Women's Equality Day celebration seeks to display the achievements of women and to educate people on how to make their voices heard at the polls.
This year's Women's Equality Day will be celebrated in the atrium of Bldg. 5700 Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon. The celebration will include light refreshments, a mini health fair, voter registration information, job application information, a women's history book display, an equality day quiz and videos depicting the struggles of women over the past 100 years, said Cindy Lockhart, of the staff judge advocate office.
Lockhart said that it is important to be aware of the plight of women because "historically women have been second-class citizens, but with Women's Equality Day we can recognize and celebrate what women have achieved."
"We were given the right to vote almost 100 years ago. It's very important this year especially because it is an election year. This means that more women are going to be at the polls and they need to recognize that they have a choice when it comes to who governs for us," she said.
With the Department of Defense opening up six occupational specialties last summer, the Army is leading the way when it comes to women's equality and Timothy Knighton, Fort Rucker Equal Employment Opportunity director, believes that thanks to the Army women have been able to expand further towards equality.
"We want people to be aware of the advancements women have made in the Army. The military has been in the forefront for advancements of our society in so many ways and this is one of the ways recently where women are now allowed to serve in areas that they were previously prohibited from," he said.
"Fort Rucker has been celebrating Women's Equality Day for more than 20 years. A few years ago we had a major effort to recognize the four-or-so women Aviators on post. We wanted to do a special feature on them. A few didn't want to take part because they felt that they weren't special, that they were just another Soldier, an Aviator, but we beg to differ. We know from history that we have Aviators here every day, but not women Aviators every day. So when we do have one it is a special occasion," he added.
Knighton added that military women have struggles that their male counterparts don't understand sometimes.
"Women have some unique challenges to becoming Aviators, or just being a Soldier, that men don't. As a result it is important to convey that women are excelling and achieving, and those who are, well, we want to highlight them to encourage others," he said.
With the policy banning women from certain jobs removed, more than 13,000 Army jobs will be available to women Soldiers for the first time. More than 135,000 female Soldiers have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, earning more than 400 valor awards, including two Silver Stars, according to www.defense.gov.
Knighton said that the women Aviators who come to train at Fort Rucker serve as a reminder of the struggles women have to face to compete in the same fields as men and that they serve as an inspiration.
"I always look at it as something that young women, teenagers, can be influenced by. To see a woman Aviator flying an aircraft is special and it's something that can be a great encouragement to young people," he said.
Knighton said that the day serves as a reminder of the struggle that women had to go through to get the right to vote, and he hopes that men and women will come by to show support for women and what they have achieved.
"We're going to have videos depicting women's efforts and accomplishments from the past years. More than anything, though, the day will be an informational campaign to promote awareness and to convey the importance of women's struggles, because it was a monumental effort working to achieve the right to vote," said the director.
"It's not something anyone should take lightly. I believe not only women in the military, but spouses and Family members need to be aware of the effort and the struggle and take advantage of the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election. We often minimize things that have taken place in the past, but because of the monumental effort of women's suffrage it is something that we really need to hold dear," he said.
The theme this year is to educate women and to encourage them to go out and vote and have a voice. Lockhart said that "people need to be more informed about the things that are going on around [them]."
"It's important for people to stop by Aug. 23 to keep up with women's current events and really to just celebrate the right to vote. We want to maintain awareness, that's critical," said Lockhart.
Knighton also commented on many young people's ideas about voting.
"Many people struggled for years to vote, a right we take for granted today and some even mock, but it is very important to just vote and realize what women had to do and how they were persecuted and humiliated just to vote. There were a lot of sacrifices and people should stop thinking that their vote doesn't count," he said.