In honor of Women's Equality Day, which is August 26, Fort Bliss held a special observance event in the Centennial Banquet Hall, August 22.

William Beaumont Army Medical Center's senior noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Janell K. Ray, was the special speaker with a special message.

"Women's equality has been 170 years in the making and we have made significant progress in that time, and although we have made significant progress, I think worldwide we still have a ways to go," said Ray.

With her speech, she engaged the audience by asking almost 100 in attendance, to raise their hand. Ray went through a list of qualifications that you needed during the early 1900's to vote. Little by little, hands went down as they saw how race, gender, age and wealth were items of discrimination to have the right to vote. Many were astonished to see only less than ten raised hands were left.

"If we had the same rules today as we did back then," said Ray, "this is who would be the only ones who could vote and speak for all of us." Ray further expressed how important the women's suffrage was, opening the doors for all citizens to be treated equally.

"It is in these moments, when our nation was challenged by change that we truly become great," said Ray. "We chose to embrace the change,...because it reflected our boundaries with respect to equality and the right for other's voices to be heard."

According to Ray, so long as women are under-represented or misrepresented within our society there is still much left to be done.

"There has been improvement, but we are not equal pay for equal work across the country and across the world and that's definitely something that we need to fix. We have done a great job in the military in opening doors, but I still think there's a lot of work to be done in the private sector because not all doors are equally open for genders across the board," said Ray in an interview.

Ray ended her speech by quoting Malala Yousafzai, "We can not succeed when half of us are held back."

The Women's Equality Day observance was planned and executed by the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade.