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Women’s Equality Day honors pioneers in suffrage movement

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By LT. COL. CHRISTINE ENRIQUEZ

U.S. Army Human Resources Command

Women have certainly come a long way. This may sound cliché, however it was not until the 1900s that women began to fight for their civil rights. There were only a handful of women who struggled to be heard and publicly demand the right to vote and be treated equally to men.

We must honor the pioneers who stood up for the women’s suffrage movement—Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who dedicated their lives to fight for women’s equality.

These strong, brave women gave public lectures in the face of adversity. They were mocked, assaulted and publicly humiliated for voicing their opinions.

Most of society during this time, including women, believed females belonged at home, taking care of their husbands and children and had no business working outside of the home. With the help of pioneering women like Stanton, Anthony and many others like them, more and more activists circulated through towns, cities and churches to persuade state legislators to give women the right to vote.

After many years of campaigning, protests and political meetings, the women’s suffrage movement finally made progress when President Woodrow Wilson requested the Senate support a constitutional amendment stating no citizen could be denied the right to vote based on gender.

Finally, in 1920, the 19th Amendment passed allowing more than 8 million women throughout the United States the right to vote for the first time in American history. To add to the momentum, year after year, additional laws were passed to promote equal rights for women.

The fight for women’s rights did not come easy and women continue to struggle for equality today.

We’re breaking “glass ceilings” and working our way to the top to positions of power and authority. Women have attained the rank of a four-star general, become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, elected into the highest positions in government and ran for president of the United States of America.

These achievements have taken a quarter of a century to break through, however with a considerable amount of struggle, hard work and sacrifice, each decade of pioneering women have made it possible for women of the next generation to attain increasing levels of prestige and promise as professionals. Yes, women have certainly come a long way, however we still have a long way to go.

As we celebrate women’s equality and women’s right to vote, we must remember the brave women who have fought for our rights and celebrate the women who continue to break the proverbial “glass ceiling.” These women fight to be heard and do not stop until they attain their dreams. They empower other women and show the world that they can be successful professionals outside of the home and have a happy family life. Successful professional women are seen as competent, equal to their male colleagues and are respected in the board rooms and offices because they are well-educated, competent in their duties and strong in their convictions.

We look forward to the day when men and women do not have to be reminded that they are equal, they are just treated as such. We should also strive for the day when equal pay for equal work should not be an issue. Successful women leaders should not feel that they have to make a compromise between work and having a family or feel they must adapt their personalities to fit into a male-dominated society. Everyone should just be considered equal despite gender, ethnicity or religious preference.