Women won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment passed in 1920. The 3rd Infantry Division honored that moment in history inside Club Stewart with the Women's Equality Day event, held at Fort Stewart, Ga., Aug. 21, 2019. Soldiers and families celebrated with skits, guest speakers and songs celebrating women's rights.
Women celebrated during the event helped champion a new era of women in the work force, voting booths and in the military. Women were not allowed to openly serve in the military prior to states ratifying the 19th Amendment.
After U.S. entry into World War II, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers introduced a bill creating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1941. The WAAC measure allowed up to 150,000 women to volunteer for military service. In 1942, the new law was approved, granting women official military status in the Army. This law allowed women to serve in the Army with the full benefits of a Soldier.
When the war ended in 1945, the need for female military service came into question, but legislators recognized the contribution by female service members. By 1948, Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, permanently establishing women in the U.S. military.
Women would fight on for more than half a century, contributing to the mission and establishing legitimacy in each of their chosen professions. In 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the DoD would rescind the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule on women serving in combat roles. The first women entered U.S. Army Ranger School, April 2015. Today more than 600 women have been recruited for or transferred to combat occupations.
Sgt. 1st Class Beatriz Sachek, Equal Opportunity Advisor for 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, has been inspired by the women of the suffrage movement and the impact it had on the Armed Forces.
"As a Soldier, it has impacted me by inspiring me to seek ways to help others reach their full potential," said Sachek. "Women's rights impacted our [females'] role in the military, because it gave us the opportunity and the power to move forward in more positions and empowered other women to do the same if they choose."
Sgt. Maj. Tiny Jones, the command career counselor for 3ID, also inspired by the women's rights movement, spoke on the importance of women becoming high-ranking non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers in the Army.
"The women's rights movement has given us [females] an opportunity to be treated fairly. It has allowed me to compete for promotion and to be equal to my male peers," said Jones. "The more high-ranking women we have in the military, the more it shows equality. It shows that we have unity between each other, both male and female Soldiers. It all started with the women of the suffrage movement."
From the beginning of the very first speeches by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, women's rights have come a long way. The celebration of their strength, wisdom, determination and courage brings us all together, closer to achieving full equality. "Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less." -Susan B. Anthony.