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News | Aug. 26, 2022

Women’s Equality Day Spotlight: Kimberly Newell

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Women’s Equality Day takes place in the U.S. each year on Aug. 26. This year’s national theme is “Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote.”

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave most women the right to vote, was passed by Congress in 1919. Men and women of color were not given the right to do so until later with the Indian Citizenship Act giving Native-Americans the right to vote in 1924, and the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 granted all Asian Americans the right to become citizens and vote. However, it was not until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law on August 6, 1965, made voting possible for African American women.

Defense Logistics Aviation’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office, along with the DLA Aviation Engineering Directorate’s special emphasis planning team, will recognize Women’s Equality Day and women’s contributions to the agency’s global mission in providing logistics support to America’s warfighters throughout the entire month of August.

Today, they feature Kimberly Newell, a contract specialist in the Strategic Acquisition and Programs Directorate in Richmond, Virginia, who shares her personal thoughts on what Women’s Equality Day means to her.

What do you think about when you hear “Women’s Equality Day” and what does Women’s Equality Day mean to you? “Women’s Equality Day” speaks to me about striving for the same opportunities for all women regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, origin, disability, or religion. The phrase “equal pay (or opportunities) for equal work” between men and women has been coined but statistically, has not been proven stable to date. Prejudices still abound in all the above-mentioned areas and others. Hopefully having this day spotlighted will remind us all to continue working towards equal recognition, equal rights, equal pay and equal respect and consideration for all! This is a good time to reflect on what each of us can do to be better.  

In your opinion, what challenges remain for women today in the workplace and why? What are your recommendations for overcoming these challenges? Obviously, work still remains for women in rising to executive positions, and/or to be seen as fully capable of performing dual roles just because we are women. I believe one positive thing this pandemic has given us is that interviews are being conducted telephonically or using other online means. This removes some of the prejudices mentioned before.  What you can’t see you don’t know, and accomplishments, knowledge, skills, and abilities are weighed more heavily than appearances.

Who are some women you admire and why? Maya Angelou is a favorite. She shared her story without shame and used it to help others find their way. I believe that is what our stories are for, to assist our human family.

J.K. Rowling also comes to mind. She received welfare benefits while writing one of her books and was rejected by 12 publishers before the book was picked up. That’s tenacity and a great comeback story proving it isn’t over ‘til it’s over!

There is a nameless woman in the Bible who ARE thought to be Mary Magdalene. She took very expensive ointment and poured it all out on Jesus’ feet. This “waste” caused her to be mocked by the naysayers, but Jesus said she, and her sacrifice would be spoken of for all of time.  Our life purpose may be hinged on just one kind deed. I’m so in awe that she had such faith to give her all! I want to be willing to do the same.

In your opinion, what American woman has been an example of “paving the way for democracy in our country” and why? Margaret Chase Smith from Maine was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.  She was also the first woman to be considered as a presidential candidate by her party at a national convention in 1964. She did not limit herself to those issues that concerned only women, but also made foreign policy and military affairs a focus. In July of 1950, she delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate denouncing the McCarthy Red Scare tactics saying: “The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared … Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.”

She stood up for every Americans’ “right to criticize … right to hold unpopular beliefs … right to protest." Her responses to her critics in the press were epic! She argued that women were the perfect match for the political arena because of their roles in the home, which was contrary to the beliefs of her critics that men were more suited for politics.

I believe the courage that she showed in standing up and speaking her mind gave more people a voice, and not just women. She encouraged all to feel free to speak up when they see injustice and strive to make our country stronger and better for everyone. We as women today must remember those that have fought the status quo, broken through the glass ceiling and honor the legacy other women have left behind.  Senator William Cohen said it best when he quoted an old Chinese proverb when referring to Ms. Smith: “When drinking the water, don’t forget who dug the well.”