Remembering Women's Equality Day, August 26

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Annie Williams-Swett
  • 302nd Airlit Wing Equal Opportunity
"Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind," by Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1959- ), Guatemalan social reformer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

In 1959, when Alaska became the 49th U.S. state, the USSR led its first solar orbit, Buddy Holly released his last record, the Cuban revolution took place, and Marilyn Monroe debuted in a controversial magazine. It was a time much different than today. A time when life was "simple", yet confining, roles were defined. People like Rigoberta Menchu Tum, a double minority, opened minds to the reality of what we continually strive for...equality.
Menchu was born to a poor indigenous Guatemalan family. She worked as an activist campaigning against human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan armed forces during the country's civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996.

Menchu was one of the founders of the Nobel Women's Initiative along with sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams. Six women representing North America and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa decided to bring together their experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality. It is the goal of the Nobel Women's Initiative to help strengthen the work being done in support of women's rights around the world.

Menchu formed a political party and stood in the 2007 presidential election. Had she been elected, she would have become Latin America's fourth indigenous and first female president.

Women's Equality Day is a day proclaimed each year by the president to commemorate the granting of the vote to women throughout the country on an equal basis with men. Women in the United States were granted the right to vote on Aug. 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified. The amendment was first introduced many years earlier in 1878. Every president has published a proclamation for Women's Equality Day since 1971 when legislation was first introduced in Congress by Bella Abzug. This resolution was passed designating Aug. 26 of each year as Women's Equality Day.

Many have uttered the phrases, "We have come a long way in our society," and, "Someday we could have a female president." Being a woman myself, I agree that these are words that hold much passion for the modern day female. Celebrate equality.