Women’s Equality Day

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- In 1971, Congress passed legislation to officially recognize Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day. This year is no different.

This year marks the 97th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote which was passed on Aug. 26, 1920.

Although a victory, this milestone was not achieved without a lengthy and difficult struggle which took decades of agitation and protest to accomplish. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of women’s suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans consider a radical change to the U.S. Constitution. Since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, there have been many milestones marking continued progress towards equality. Here are some of those milestones:

1948: Congress passes the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act granting women permanent status in the military with the authority and regulation and entitlement to veteran’s benefits.

1963: President John F. Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act in an effort to remove the gender pay gap where women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned.

1968: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission revises the definition of sex discrimination to make clear that “help wanted” advertisements that use “male” or “female” headings are in direct violation of Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964.

1981: The Supreme Court overturned the law that states a husband is “head master” of his wife’s property.

2015: For the first time in the 65-year history of the Army Ranger tab, two women graduated from the grueling 62-day course with the same trials as their male counterparts.

It is clear that women have made great strides toward equality since the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920. As we celebrate women’s equality at Columbus Air Force Base, let us reflect upon the progress we have made within the Department of Defense to strengthen the total force through equal opportunity for both men and women. Today, we proudly acknowledge that women can serve in any capacity in the U.S. armed forces. Women are an integral part to our diverse Air Force, and it is this diverse force that makes us stronger. In the words of A.M. Kurta, performing the duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness:

“From the picket lines to the front lines of combat, women of the past and present have served and sacrificed tremendously to pave the way for future generations of Americans to pursue and achieve their dreams.”

(Editor’s note: The following article has information used from www.deomi.org.)