COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The Defense Federal Community celebrated Women’s Equality Day Aug. 22 with an outdoor observance at the Defense Supply Center Columbus’ Mission Park marked by music, food and fellowship.
“Today we celebrate the progress we’ve made to advance the full participation of women in the federal workplace," said DSCC and Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. John Palmer.
Women’s Equality Day is officially commemorated annually on Aug. 26 nationwide.
The theme of this month’s observance was “Celebrating Women’s Right To Vote” to coincide with the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. The day marked a turning point in America’s history when the state of Tennessee voted to ratify the amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving it enough votes to pass into law.
“Earning the right to vote was and is a crucial victory for America’s women and paved the way for the freedoms and economic successes we enjoy today – not just for women but for men too because it’s the collective wisdom of both women and men that makes us smarter, stronger and better,” he said.
On a personal level, the commander added that the struggle has touched his own family. His mother was discharged from her teaching job in 1956 “for the egregious sin of getting married,” Palmer said.
His mother enjoyed her profession and attempted to continue teaching, however her employer was even more resistant when she became pregnant soon after, he said. She had to stop teaching in 1957 and ultimately didn’t return to work until 1970.
Palmer compares that to modern times, and the changes in attitudes and thinking in the workplace – one that allows his daughter to be both a married mother of two and a career professional.
“It’s incredible to see the changes it brought to our country and to hear the courageous accounts of women who fought for our democratic rights,” Palmer said.
Following Palmer’s introductory remarks, he welcomed to the stage Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, to deliver the keynote address.
Miller shared Ohio’s history of supporting advancements toward women’s equality and the stories of women who helped make it happen. She cited women like Dorothea Dix, who set up the first field hospitals during the Civil War to care for the sick and wounded, and Dorothy Fuldheim, who became the first woman in the United States to anchor a television news broadcast.
“These women are like you and me,” Miller said. “They did extraordinary things but they were ordinary people. They saw a need and they filled it; they saw a challenge and they tackled it.”
Miller expressed the importance of remembering those who paved the way for equal rights as well as those today continuing to push for equality.
“There’s more and more opportunities for women – especially in the military – than there’s ever been before, and I call on you to pursue excellence,” she said.
DLA Land and Maritime’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office hosted the program in conjunction with the Federal Women’s Program for DLA Land and Maritime and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service – Columbus.
Resident saxophonist Wynueco Washington opened the outdoor event with several smooth jazz numbers to set the mood accompanied by keyboardist Antuan Walker and drummer Andre Walker, the sons of DSCC choir director Donna Walker-Griffin. Angela McCoy sang a pitch-perfect National Anthem, followed by an invocation delivered by DLA Land and Maritime Chaplain Liaison Laura Leeper Branham.
Musical performances by the DSCC Choir followed the speakers’ remarks, with Lisa Griffin leading the audience in a rousing version of “Lean On Me” to close out the event.
Guests were invited to stay and enjoy a free lunch at the conclusion.