By Senior Master Sgt. Bilma Romero
/ Published August 14, 2020
Women’s Equality Day is celebrated every August 26th to commemorate the passage of women’s suffrage in the United States.
It is a time to remember the tribulations overcome by the heroic women who faced violence and discrimination to propel the movement of equality forward, regardless of sex. This movement began in 1848 and ended in 1920 because tens of thousands of women and men devoted their efforts for 72 years to achieve equality.
A century ago, women did not have the right to vote in the United States. This year is historical because it marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which grants women the right to vote and hold public office. Prior to this, women were treated as second-class citizens and were not entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which were available to male citizens. Women had little financial, legal or political power and much less influence of their own and they faced a well-financed and engrained opposition.
In1848, this civil rights movement originated at the world’s first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, NY. Later, women’s suffrage supporters circulated petitions, wrote, lectured, marched, and lobbied the country to win support for what many Americans considered a radical change to the Constitution.
Similar to what we see today, they were ridiculed, harassed and sometimes attacked by mobs and police. Some were thrown in jail, and then treated brutally when they protested. Only a few of those supporters lived to see the victory of 1920.
The women’s suffrage movement was successful in part because a group of passionate citizens banded together to activate change. Activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul took big risks, used their voices, and walked the road less traveled to rewrite the old rules that were written by and for men. The anchoring point was the involvement of women in World War I, which made their contributions obvious and it was then that women’s suffrage finally gained enough support.
Women are still advocating for equal rights because gender wage gap and gender based discrimination still exists in the workplace. Each year we get closer to a government that more accurately reflects the population that helps push legislation forward to better reflect our unified wants and needs, from supporting equal pay to advocating for breast feeding stations in the private and public sectors.
As an Air Force member, not only do we get to read about this movement but we also get to live the glory of narrowing the margins of gender disparity. During this year’s Centennial celebration of women’s equality, we will get to see a milestone that speaks to the significant contributions of the women’s suffrage movement as we watch Chief Master Sergeant JoAnne Bass transition into the highest enlisted level of leadership in the Air Force. Not only will she be the first female Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, but also the first female senior enlisted across all services.
Please join 55th Wing Staff Agency superintendents and committee members, Senior Master Sergeants Bilma Romero, Kathy Blake, Rene Ochoa, Sharika Ceasor, Laura Garcia and Master Sgt. Michael Johnson, in celebrating the 100th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day August 26.
Be sure and watch for videos that will highlight 55th Wing women leadership on Offutt social media. To learn more about women’s equality, visit https://www.nps.gov/wori/2020.htm.