Women’s Equality Day: A Small Step For Womankind

By Maya GreenAugust 1, 2023

Women's Equality Day graphic
Courtesy graphic (Photo Credit: Jennifer Donnelly, U.S. Army Medical Command) VIEW ORIGINAL

Aug. 26, 1920, marked a turn for women’s rights in America. Citizens were guaranteed the right to vote regardless of their sex through the ratification of the Constitution’s 19th Amendment. This day of celebration would go on to be known as Women’s Equality Day.

This fight for women’s rights began in Seneca Falls, New York, where the first women’s rights convention was held on July 19-20, 1848. The Seneca Fall Convention boasted hundreds of attendees with a handful who signed the Declaration of Sentiments, a document detailing gender inequality in America. A few notable signatories are principal author Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragist Mary Ann M’Clintock, and abolitionist Frederick Douglas.

Suffragists fought hard for women’s rights by marching on Washington and protesting in front of the White House. But with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, not all women earned legal recognition of equal citizenship despite being a part of the suffragist movement. Many women of color still faced barriers to voting: Native American women (1924); Chinese American women (1943); Japanese and other Asian American women (1952); Black American women (1965); and “language minority” Latina American women (1975). The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its extensions outlawed discriminatory voting practices that served as obstacles to voting, such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and much more.

Women’s Equality Day celebrates women’s resilience in the face of adversity as we strive towards the nation’s ideal that all people are created equal. Trailblazing suffragists have fought to ensure women may actively participate in democracy and experience gender equity.

Women have only been able to serve in military uniform alongside their male counterparts for the past 75 years. Congress granted women the right to “serve as permanent, regular members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force” under the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948. On Jan. 24, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the military’s ban on women serving in combat.

According to the Department of Defense, in 2021 more than 1.3 million active-duty members serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force. Of that 1.3 million, about 17.3% of active-duty members are female; compared to five years prior when it was only 16.5%.

Integrating women into the military and granting them the right to vote strengthens the nation's ability to protect citizens and uphold democracy for all, regardless of gender. This diversification of the military force allows endless opportunities for those determined to serve.

Team APG Federal Women’s Program and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory will host the annual Women's Equality Day observance at the Myer Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 24, 2023. Attendees can participate in the event in person or via MS Teams. Awards will be given for Outstanding Woman of the Year, Outstanding Supervisor/Manager of the Year and the Activity Most Supportive of FWP Goals.

To attend the virtual event: https://dod.teams.microsoft.us/l/meetup-join/19%3adod%3ameeting_934830c39e4a451f8f4688d40888c0c1%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22fae6d70f-954b-4811-92b6-0530d6f84c43%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%225367987d-e4d5-4dc5-b5b6-6b7ef39f5fbc%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d.