By Tazanyia Mouton, USAG-Natick Public AffairsAugust 29, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (Aug. 28, 2013) -- On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was certified extending the right to vote to women, and advancing our nation's long journey for full equality to all Americans.
The 19th Amendment made it possible for more women to participate in American politics as leaders, candidates, voters and volunteers. Today, women make up the majority of the electorate, and last year a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Congress.
On Women's Equality Day, we celebrate the progress that has been made and renew our commitment to securing equal rights, freedoms and opportunities for women everywhere.
As part of the celebration, Heather Leiby, the Natick Soldier Systems Center director of Army Community Service, spoke of the importance of women's right to vote and highlighted the significant milestones in women's equality.
"Today is not only about commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment, but the day we call attention to women's continuing efforts to full equality," said Leiby. "In order to see where we are going, it is important from time to time to look backward, and then forward again."
Leiby said her goal for the presentation was to educate the audience about how our nation has moved from seeing women as the property of men, to seeing women as individuals in their own right.
By 1914, 10 states had laws permitting women the right to vote and in 1917, Montana sent the first woman to Congress.
Leiby also tied together the role of women in our armed forces.
"In 1948, President Harry Truman would sign the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, and women would become official members of all the armed services," Leiby said. "The roles that the 350,000 women had filled during World War II would never look the same."
The war in Vietnam also provided further opportunities for women in the armed forces.
"In the years following, a great number of milestones were reached," said Leiby, "flying combat missions, obtaining the rank of brigadier general and rear admiral, acceptance into military academies, serving on submarines and flight decks, becoming training officers, and driving in convoys, to name a few."
In 2011, more than 214,000 women were serving in the ranks of the armed services, making up almost 15 percent of the active duty military population.
"Today, we celebrate the road toward equality that has been paved by those who walked before us," Leiby said. "We have an obligation to each other and to the future to find the balance to support one another, to recognize our differences and celebrate our achievements."