By Erinn BurgessAugust 30, 2018
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified. Today, 98 years later, the iconic day still recognizes women's continued efforts toward equality. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz celebrated 2018 Women's Equality Day at an event hosted by 21st Theater Sustainment Command at KMC Onstage, Kleber Kaserne, Aug. 30.
Col. William S. Galbraith, 21st TSC deputy commanding officer, opened the event with an emphasis on the importance of continuing the fight for equality across the board.
"The march for equality will not end until full parity and equal opportunity are attained in every state and every workplace across our nation," he said. "If we continue to fight for our hopes and aspirations, there will be no limit to the possibilities for our daughters and our granddaughters."
Galbraith then introduced guest speaker Mayor Genoveva Garcia Calloway from San Pablo, Calif.
Calloway, whose parents migrated from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, was the first of 14 children in her family to attend college. She was elected to San Pablo City Council in 2002 and is serving her fourth term as mayor.
As she told her story, Calloway drew upon the obstacles she faced growing up, such as moving away from her family after high school to pursue her education in a state where tuition was free.
"During my time, a woman could not leave home unless she got married -- that was the expectation. So, I had to figure out a way to get around that," she said. Calloway worked hard, saved enough money for airfare to California and told her dad she was taking a trip to visit family friends.
"I asked my dad, 'May I go visit this family? I'll be back in two weeks.' He said okay… but I knew already that once arriving in California, I was going to get a job right away and that I was not coming back," she recounted. She did, and she went on to graduate from University of California, Berkeley, with a master's degree in social work.
"In preparing for this speech and reflecting on my own past, I realize the sacrifices and barriers that I had to overcome. I did not do it alone -- many women and men came before me and opened doors for women of my generation," Calloway said. "I, too, am proud and grateful to continue opening doors for others to come behind me."
Calloway encouraged audience members to take a few simple steps to continue the ongoing quest for equal rights.
1. Write a thank-you letter to an influential woman in your life. It doesn't need to be long, just honest and heartfelt -- a few words of gratitude go a long way.
2. Choose a historical female figure to research, take a trip to the library and spend an afternoon learning about her. Involve your family members.
3. Mentor a young girl.
4. Commit to raising the next generation of men and women to respect each other and uphold the same dignity we all seek as human beings.
5. Ask all of the women in your lives to register to vote.
"In my own small way, and I think in each small way of each one of you, we are all making history, like the historical women we are honoring today," Calloway said. "We are breaking barriers and we keep fighting for the rights of women. We can vote now, but we still have a long way to go.
"Let's go forward and continue making history by making every day Women's Equality Days," Calloway concluded.