21st Theater Sustainment Command leads Women’s Equality Day observances.
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany- The 21st Theater Sustainment Command hosted two events in honor of Women’s Equality Day, hosted by the 7th Mission Support Command at the Armstrong Club on Aug. 18, and the 16th Sustainment Brigade at the Wagon Wheel Theater on Aug. 24. Women’s Equality Day is celebrated across the nation on Aug. 26 to commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment, which allows women the right to vote.
Although Women’s Equality Day is federally observed on the 26, Aug. 18 also holds historical importance as this was the day that the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. On Aug. 26, 1972, President Richard Nixon issued Proclamation 4147, which became Women’s Rights Day. However, it wasn’t until a year later that President Nixon issued Proclamation 4236, that it officially became Women’s Equality Day.
The events centered around guest panelists featuring fellow servicewomen who have pioneered the path for women in the military. Women such as Air Force Maj. Sandra Salzman, a pilot-physician with the 37th Airlift Squadron, and Col. Adrian Sullivan, commander of Defense Logistics Agency – Europe & Africa who continue to pave the way for females in the military.
“Women’s Equality Day is extremely important because without those women who came before, I wouldn’t be standing where I am today,” said Lt. Col. Leah Kenfield, 21st TSC equal opportunity program manager. “So being able to celebrate this and to conduct this observance is a big deal.”
The event allowed the attendees to interact with the guest panelists as they spoke about their own experiences and challenges they have faced.
“Everyone in our formation brings something to the table, and not everybody has had an easy go of it getting here. There have been trailblazers in every race, every gender, every nationality, and taking a moment to reflect on those individuals that have gone before us and have allowed us to be accomplished is huge,” said Kenfield. “And really just taking the time to stop and reflect on our own journeys and reflect on those around us and the enrichment they bring to our formations.”
The guests and attendees tackled topics such as micro-aggressions, military childcare programs, career and family balance, and various barriers or obstacles they’ve had to overcome.
Obstacles such as breastfeeding mothers who were forced to pump in bathrooms. Now, laws, such as the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act or PUMP Act and Department of Defense regulations, ensure every mother will have access to a lactation room in the workplace.
“The takeaway from today’s event should be the experiences of those women sitting at the table. The O-6 commander, the Air Force Major who’s a pilot-physician, the combat comms [communications] captain, the NCO [non-commissioned officer], they all bring diverse backgrounds and experience to the table,” said Kenfield. “I think it’s very helpful for the young leaders, Soldiers, and Airmen in the room.”
Kenfield goes on to say that in the future, she hopes that women will be able to overcome the mindset that they have to sacrifice family for a career to become obtainable and achievable.
“Seeing the diversity of the panel we had today,” said Kenfield. “That vast range of experience and knowledge that they can look at and say, yeah, she made it, I can make it too.”