Women’s Equality Day 2015

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
The movement for women's equality started in the 1870's; however, it took nearly 50 years and many sacrifices from pioneers before women were officially granted, by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote.

In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26th as Women's Equality Day to celebrate the passage of the Amendment. This month we celebrate only the 95th anniversary of such event.

Women in the Air Force have been making strides and history in dedication of the movement for women's equality.

Chief Master Sgt. Ruth E. Flores was the first woman to become the Air Reserve Personnel Center's command chief and assumed responsibility in December 2013.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson was the first woman to lead the U.S. Air Force Academy and formally took command in August 2013.

Col. Jeannie Flynn Leavitt was the first woman to become an Air Force wing commander and formally took command in October 2012. She was also the first woman to become a fighter pilot in 1993.

Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger was the first woman to become a four-star general in the Air Force in June 2012. She is only the second woman in U.S. history to achieve four-star general.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey commented, "The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service." The move reverses the 1994 rule that prohibited women from serving in combat.

We have made great strides towards women's equality in the United States. However, there is still much to be done. For example, active duty military women are comprised of 15% of the total force, but only 2.6% hold top leadership positions.

"As we reflect on decades of progress toward gender equality, we must also resolve to make progress in our time," stated U.S. President Barack Obama. "Today, we honor the pioneers of women's equality by doing our part to realize the great American dream--the dream of a nation where all things are possible for all people."

Everyone can be an advocate for women's equality. It does not take the initiative of a political figure or a full time activist to make a difference. It starts with acknowledging the fact that as a society we have not fully achieved women's equality and making it happen.