Soldiers and civilians from across Fort Jackson remembered great female leaders of the past while looking to the future of Women's Equality during a luncheon to celebrate the observance. The sold-out luncheon, hosted by the Fort Jackson Equal Opportunity office and the 193rd Infantry Brigade, was held at the NCO Club Aug. 26.

"Having the right to vote is one thing," said Columbia, South Carolina Councilwoman Tameika I. Devine. "Using that right is another and using that right in a way that impacts our communities, our nation and global society is very important."

Devine was the luncheon's guest speaker who graduated with a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Devine, helped establish the cities first Criminal Domestic Violence Task Force. She is the first and youngest African American female to serve on the city council.

She spoke about the roots of Women's Equality and the ratification of the 19th Amendment and their importance today. She spoke about three lessons to be learned from the women's suffrage movement including persistence and dedication; not being able to do anything of worth alone; and that voting is just the beginning of equality for women.

"Without the 19th Amendment, I may not be here speaking to you today," Devine said. "We must recognize that voting is only part of the equation if we are ever truly going to achieve equality.

Today in 2019 we are still having conversations about equal pay and racial wealth gap in our country that continues to hold families back. In order to achieve true equality we must do more."

Devine issued three charges to the audience and emphasized to women in the crowd: educating yourself and others on issues with your community and how they are important to the community members; holding elected and appointed officials accountable, to include herself; and think about running for office or supporting candidates that are running for office who represent your goals.

The councilwoman said she believes open communication between local officials and community members on issues affecting communities can be resolved through partnerships and two-way communication. She said through responsible education and working together, community issues can be resolved in a manner respectful to all. This can lead to more leadership roles for women and give them a chance to have their voices heard and taken into consideration during decision making processes.

"We need more women in elected offices," she said. "Our numbers are still very low. In order to have diversity at the table, we need to be there when decisions are being made."

Devine concluded by explaining that by not being involved in education and open communication with elected officials could result in regression for the fight for women's equality.

The Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority provided entertainment during the luncheon. The all military and veteran women's sorority demonstrated a step dance with each move representing a different meaning that included being there for their fellow sisters, ignoring negativity and lifting each other up spiritually and emotionally.

As the luncheon came to a close Col. John C. White, Jr., the 193rd Infantry Brigade commander, thanked the sorority and Devin for attending and providing their insight into women's equality. Each were presented with a plaque to commemorate the event and as a show of appreciation for their participation.

"What great words of wisdom to inspire us with your charges," White said. "I know we won't forget what you have said to us today."