JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
In observance of Women’s Equality Day, a multi-part program, which included a panel and keynote speaker, was held Aug. 31, 2023 at The Club to highlight women’s increased representation and discuss recent and future opportunities for improvement in the military.
Women’s Equality Day is observed each year on August 26th to commemorate the day in 1920 when the Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation granting American women the constitutional right to vote. The observance day was established by the Joint Resolution of Congress in 1971.
“Fifty-two years of calling attention to women’s issues resulted in multiple recent policy changes across the U.S. Air Force that are positively affecting both women and men in uniform,” said Christie Dragan, Chief of Strategic Communication for the Air Force Review Boards Agency, as she introduced the panel discussion looking at the issues of equality then and now. “This panel will touch on the personal impact of these policy changes and talk about the women and men who inspired them to set and achieve goals.
The four panelists were made up of men and women, military, civilian, officer, enlisted, and a military spouse, adding to the idea that Women's Equality Day encompasses more than just women; it provides an opportunity for all individuals to contemplate their contributions to advancing gender equality. They were asked questions about inspirational influences in their lives and how new policy changes, like extended parental leave, have affected them.
“I’m thankful the extended parental leave policy was put into place,” said Staff Sgt. Dacari Richardson, from the Board for Correction of Military Records and father to 8-month-old Sage who was born 5 days prior to the policy announcement. “I feel like I’m able to really spend time with my child. Growing up, my father was in the U.S. Navy and rarely had the opportunity to see me - there was a major disconnect that we have improved on.”
The event also included an informational booth designed by members at the 316th Wing to greet attendees and ask what women’s equality means to them. The booth also included inspirational quotes and displayed a brief history of the observance day.
Co-host of the event, Dr. Gerald D. Curry, Air Force Review Boards Agency director, and the keynote speaker, Maj. Gen. Anne B. Gunter, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander and President of Air University, spoke of the importance of women’s equality and a chance to gather, reflect on the strides society has made for women, and discuss a future for true equality.
“Today we pay homage to the women and men who have fought relentlessly for gender equality,” said Gunter. “Today, it is important to continue this fight because it is far from over.”