Women's Equality Day - a celebration of diversity

  • Published
  • By Dawn A. Altmaier
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Community Support Coordinator
Can you imagine a time when society frowned upon women in the workplace? How about a time when women were not allowed to vote for the officials who set law and legislation? Well, it wasn't so long ago that women were not allowed to vote or apply for many jobs, let alone accept them.

We are coming upon the 100th anniversary of when Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote. The amendment was introduced in 1878--30 years after the first world's women's rights convention. However, it took 42 years before Congress signed the amendment. In 1971, 51 years later, Representative Senator Bella Abzug (D-NY), convinced Congress to designate August 26 as "Women's Equality Day" to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment. (Source: Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, News Release 13-07-15, July 17, 2013)

As a woman, I am grateful for those brave individuals who paved the path for me. I treasure my right to vote and to have a say in who my elected officials are. As a former Airman, I valued the opportunity to serve in any capacity for my Air Force. I was never told I couldn't do something my male counterparts could do. If someone were to tell me I couldn't do something, simply because I was female, I would be more determined than ever to prove the "nay-sayers" wrong. I am eternally grateful that I grew up in a nation and in a time where my voice mattered. I was not only allowed, but encouraged to make a difference in the world.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many other nations or even some communities right here in the United States. This is why I feel it is important to get the word out about equality. I believe every person should have the right to vote for the officials who affect their livelihood, that pay should be based on merit, not gender--or any other demographic and that every person should be afforded the opportunity to go into any career they choose, play any sport they like and become anything they wish to be.

My hope is that one day every person will see others for their ability, capability, and their potential. I look forward to the day when we treat each other as equals and celebrate our differences rather than use them to divide us as a society or nation.

The 92nd Air Refueling Wing Historian provided this picture of the first women employed by the United States Air Force serving at Felts Field, Spokane, Wash. Their contribution was just the first in a long line of women who have helped make this a great Air Force. I truly enjoy visiting offices around Fairchild and seeing women serving in every unit in every aspect.

Let us purposefully and enthusiastically celebrate equality to continue making our nation, our military and our Air Force the bench mark for others. Let us be the role model others want to emulate. On Monday, August 26, I ask that you take a moment to appreciate how far our nation and military has come since 1920 when a female couldn't vote or be an Airman, work on an aircraft, carry a weapon or do many other jobs reserved for their male counterparts.

I invite you to attend the Women's Equality Day breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on August 26 at the Warrior Dining Facility. Col. Robin Schultze, the 92nd Medical Group commander, will provide a brief presentation explaining how women serving during World War II changed the face of our military. To reserve your seat please contact Ms. Dawn Altmaier at dawn.altmaier.1@us.af.mil or (509) 247-5273.