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Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
August 24, 2020

Military Sealift Command Hosts Virtual Special Observance for Women's Equality Day
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By Bill Mesta

NORFOLK, Va. (August 24, 2020)—Approximately 80 service members and civilian teammates attached to Military Sealift Command gathered remotely for the command’s first virtual special observance, held in honor of Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 24.

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated annually in the United States to commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, where women achieved the right to vote in U.S. elections.

“The Women’s Right Movement made it possible for (American) women to earn the right to vote and cleared the way for women to be able to hold the same positions as men in the workplace,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandi Ziglar, the special observance’s mistress of ceremony. “On Women’s Equality Day, we commemorate the struggle of women to gain the right to vote.”

“The movement for women’s rights was launched on a national level in 1848 at what is now known as the ‘Seneca Falls Convention’,” according to Ziglar. “Originally advertised as a women’s rights convention, voting rights advocates Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and other activists, or Suffragists as they were known, formed organizations that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women.”

The theme for the 2020 Women’s Equality Day special observance was ‘Chipping Away at Inequality.’

“(The Suffragist) efforts culminated in making the right to vote a center-piece of the Women’s Rights Movement,” Ziglar stated. “It would take 72 years after the Suffragist Movement began for these groups to emerge victorious with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Aug. 18, 1920, which prohibited denial of any U.S. citizen the right to vote based on sex. On election day that same year, more than 8 million women across the nation voted for the first time.”

MSC’s Special Observance Committee hosted the special observance virtually to allow its teammates to honor the Suffragists’ efforts, while reducing the spread of COVID-19 among the command’s teammates.

“For decades, women pioneers have broken down barriers, created new opportunities, championed justice and risked their lives for the greater good of this entire nation,” said Capt. Janice Smith, the first African American woman to hold the position of Commodore, Military Sealift Command Atlantic and keynote speaker for the special observance.
“Sustaining and proving what these women have accomplished while creating new opportunities for the next generation is important to continue with our progress.”

“The importance of taking time to remember, to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women who paved the way for us, cannot be overstated,” said Smith. “It is important that the younger generation of women, destine to blaze new trails, know the history of where we are coming from in order to chart the course of their future.”

The special observance included a benediction presented by Chaplain Carla Barry, Military Sealift Command’s Force Chaplain and a slide show featuring women who currently serve, or have served in the past, in support of MSC’s efforts around the world.

“Today, we not only celebrate in remembering women’s history, but we call attention to women’s continued efforts towards full equality,” Smith said. “Women’s equality is not possible because of a single woman or a single event or a single moment in time. Every monumental event we have had in our history was proceeded by several years of work in the trenches. Years of day-to-day grind with small accomplishments, over long periods of time.”

The event also included a presentation produced by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute to honor Women’s Equality Day.

“Women have been serving in the U.S. military for over 245 years, dating back to 1775, during the American Revolutionary War,” according to Smith. “Today, women are serving (in the military) in every rank and have the opportunity to serve in every job.”

“We have been at this for a very long time,” concluded Smith. “Hundreds of years of dedication and resiliency, in the face of unsurmountable odds, has resulted in freedom for women of my generation and future generations, to make our own choices about which careers we would like to pursue.”

Military Sealift Command remains committed to supporting an inclusive professional work-force that develops all of its teammates and thrives on their contributions.

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