By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 30, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 30, 2012) -- The Fort Rucker community gathered to recognize the struggles of suffrage and to educate themselves on women's issues as Women's Equality Day was celebrated Aug. 23 with a small booth fair in Bldg. 5700.
The booths included information on women's health (giving free blood pressure tests and contraceptives), suffrage movies, voter registration and absentee voting, job hunting do's and don'ts, résumé and interview tips and women's history.
"The special emphasis program committee is pleased with the turnout today. We are giving out tons of goodie bags and women are having fun with our women's equality quiz," said Timothy Knighton, Fort Rucker Equal Employment Opportunity Director.
The purpose of the day was to promote the continued struggle for women's equality as well as recognizing the accomplishments that women have made.
"Awareness is what we are promoting. The idea is to have fun while making people aware of certain situations, current and past. The fact that we are celebrating Women's Equality Day shows the progress that the country is making and awareness is key, and I believe we have accomplished that today," said Knighton.
Attendees like Elizabeth Gibson, a Landing Zone employee, acknowledged the importance of keeping the day recognized for future generations and displayed respect for the women who struggled during suffrage.
"Women have fought for years to obtain equality, so it's important for everyone to celebrate it, especially the Army. It is so important for young women to stay active in their communities, because it gives [them] a better sense of 'self' and that's important in being a strong woman in today's society," said Gibson.
"So many women before us have fought for us to have the equalities that we have and it's something we should stand up for and be proud to say, 'I am a woman.' I think it speaks a lot about the women who came before us when we see women outnumbering males in college classrooms, and obtaining higher and higher positions in the government. Because of them we can take advantage of what America has to offer and say, 'Yes, I can work. I don't have to stay at home and raise the children unless I want to. I can have both," said Elizabeth Burleson, assistant business manager at the Landing Zone.
Burleson encounters professional Army women everyday and says that they inspire her more and more.
"It's amazing to see women in uniform. I see pregnant Soldiers still working, though many women would be resting at home. Those women are showing everyone that women can do a job that is a traditional male position, even while carrying a child. They are crazy tough. I wear my girl power very proudly," she said.
Garrison commander Col. Stuart J. McRae and garrison command Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland stopped at the fair to speak with attendees and give their support of women's equality.
"Everyone in our country is important, including and especially women. There are some very, very famous and important women in American history and I think it is important that we recognize and celebrate women's contributions to our Army and to our country," said Noland.
The committee was happy that McRae made an appearance and gave a little insight to his personal women's equality knowledge.
"I am very pleased that they were able to stop by with the Sergeant Major of the Army being on post today. They made it part of their plan to stop by and convey support for our activities. It was very entertaining that [McRae] asked the committee a few equality questions," said Knighton.
McRae asked participants where the first congresswoman of the United States was from. The answer was close to his heart, for Jeannette Rankin was from his home state of Montana. He expanded the question by asking how many times she voted against the World Wars, the answer being twice. She voted against getting involved in both World War I and II.
The right to vote was a main topic at the event, initiating conversations between men and women during the celebration.
"We are showing the movie 'Iron Jawed Angels,' which is an HBO production about young, female activists that take women's suffrage by storm. They risk their lives to help American women win the right to vote. It can be a very stirring movie," said Knighton.
"I think given the political [topics] we have going on during this year's election, I think there will be many more female voters. I believe that women's issues have been more in the forefront this year than in past elections, and that will make a difference in the number of women we will see at the polls. It is a very close election and both parties are recognizing the influence of female voters more than they have in the past. Women will have a loud voice in this year's election," said Noland.
"I hope more women will be at the polls this year because we have been conditioned to believe that one vote doesn't count, but I really think it does. I will vote for sure," said Gibson.
Lyster provided pamphlets on issues such as heart conditions and health, the dangers of smoking, osteoporosis, depression, breast health, alternative therapies and the human papillomavirus. The booth also had a breast cancer model for women to feel to know what a lump feels like in breast tissue.
"We just want to say thank you to everyone who came by today and enjoyed the booths, fellowship and refreshments of Women's Equality Day," said Knighton.