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Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Women's Equality Day is observed on the 26th day of August. It marks the anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement’s greatest victory — women achieving full voting rights following the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The observance has grown to include focusing attention on women's continued efforts toward gaining full equality.

In the 96 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified, women have made strides in every facet of American life. We have learned that women are an integral part of our country's success, including within the Department of Defense.

Women have been a part of the defense of our nation since the Revolutionary War, but in the early days of our country, they had to cloak themselves in disguise to serve alongside men. With the formation of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901, for the first time, women were formally recognized as valuable contributors.

Equal opportunities have continued to expand in all service branches. On Jan. 24, 2013, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifted the official ban that had prevented military women from serving in direct combat roles. Since that time, the DoD has worked closely with the services to implement the policy, opening more than 110,000 positions to women so far. This paved the way for women like U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Harver who on graduated from the grueling 62-day Army Ranger course and earned the coveted Ranger Tab Aug. 21, 2015.

Even outside of direct combat roles, one does not have to search for long or to look far back in history for examples of women’s contributions to the defense of our country.

In April, Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson was approved by the Senate as commander of U.S. Northern Command, becoming the country’s first female combatant commander. In May, the U.S. Navy's highest ranking woman, Adm. Michelle Howard, became Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Howard made history by becoming the first woman to reach the rank of admiral.

“Women have done many jobs through the decades that perhaps we never dreamed possible,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “Certainly if a woman can do these new jobs, they ought to have the opportunity to compete.”

To learn more about Women’s Equality Day or other DoD-recognized special observances, visit the DEOMI website at https://www.deomi.org/SpecialObservance/SupportWomen.cfm.

Editor's note: The 366th Fighter Wing Special Observance Committee plans and hosts events throughout the year to recognize the continuous achievements of all Americans to American culture and to increase awareness, mutual respect, and understanding among military members, their families, and the civilian work force.