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WRNMMC Staff Reflects On Women’s Equality Day


By Kalila Fleming

WRNMMC Command Communications

August 26 marks 46 years since the U.S. Congress designated the date as “Women’s Equality Day” commemorating the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment indicates, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
In observance of Women’s Equality Day, staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shared their sentiments regarding the commemoration and the impact passage of the Nineteenth Amendment have had on women’s equality.
“Women play an essential role in society, and our voices must be heard,” stated WRNMMC Director of Nursing Services Navy Capt. Valerie Morrison. “The relationship between man and woman was designed from the beginning for perfect equality; man and woman equal one,” she furthered.
“It is wonderful that women can serve in so many various fields, to include submarines,” Morrison continued. “It is also fabulous to see that women, and women of color, are holding some of the highest positions. I am incredibly inspired that the Defense Health Agency is headed up by a female, Asian-American — three-star flag officer Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) Raquel C. Bono, who is a dynamic, courageous leader.”
Franklin Abram, senior administrator in the Department of Neurology at WRNMMC, agreed Aug. 26 should be observed beyond its historical significance to its impact on equality. He noted the National Women’s History Project, which has helped lead efforts in recognition of women achievements, has stated, “The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.”
“[Women’s Equality Day] should be recognized by everyone because it is a landmark [date] in our country’s history,” Abram added.
Monica Hesham, nurse in the Pediatric Outpatient Clinic at WRNMMC, agreed. She stated, “[As a nation] we have not reached a point of equality, and it would be nice to observe and address issues [impacting full equality] that are still prevalent.”
“The fact of the matter is hundreds of thousands of people have gone through extensive lengths to get to where we are now,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Phillip Villegas. “Everyone should all be able to exercise the simple freedoms that we have in life,” he added.
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, when women participate in civil society and politics, governments are more open, democratic and responsive to citizens. Additionally, the USAID noted when women are at the negotiating table, peace agreements are more inclusive and durable.
“We have already seen significant changes within the military regarding women. The military has opened up more combat roles [to women],” stated Navy PO2 Bret Ramirez, leading petty officer for the Orthopedic Department.
In issuing the first presidential proclamation for Women’s Equality Day in 1973, President Richard Nixon stated, ““The struggle for women’s suffrage, however, was only the first step toward full and equal participation of women in our Nation’s life. In recent years, we have made other giant strides by attacking sex discrimination through our laws and by paving new avenues to equal economic opportunity for women. Today, in virtually every sector of our society, women are making important contributions to the quality of American life. And yet, much still remains to be done.”
In proclaiming Women’s Equality Day last year, President Barack Obama stated, “Nearly one century ago, with boundless courage and relentless commitment, dedicated women who had marched, advocated, and organized for the right to cast a vote finally saw their efforts rewarded on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment was certified and the right to vote was secured. In the decades that followed, that precious right has bolstered generations of women and empowered them to stand up, speak out, and steer the country they love in a more equal direction. Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of this hard-won achievement and pay tribute to the trailblazers and suffragists who moved us closer to a more just and prosperous future, we resolve to protect this constitutional right and pledge to continue fighting for equality for women and girls.”
Obama concluded, “No woman should earn less than a man for doing the same job — equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principle of our economy and our democracy. Women make up roughly half of our workforce, and we need to invest more in affordable, high-quality childcare. We must strengthen paid sick, maternity, and family leave...And we must continue striving for fairness and opportunity when it comes to improving workplace policies, because we know that when women succeed, our economy and our country succeed.”