“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The drafters of the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 drew their inspiration from the Declaration of Independence but modified it to demand rights for women. Man, they noted, has “never permitted [woman] to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise. He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.”

19th Admendent document scan

Those conditions persisted for another 72 years before women gained the right to vote nationwide. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women suffrage passed the House and Senate in 1919; was ratified on Aug. 24, 1920, and was signed into law on Aug. 26, 1920. Half a century later, in 1971, Congress designated Aug. 26  Women’s Equality Day as a “symbol of the continued fight for equal rights.”

And it has been a fight. Women boldly and tenaciously fought for equality in the face of danger and unpopularity. Women were arrested, tried, fined, and force-fed in prison during that long struggle to earn the legal right to vote.

It is particularly poignant to remember the patriotism and selfless service women showed by volunteering to serve in our country’s military before they were permitted to vote in its elections. When the Women in Military Service for America memorial was dedicated, World War I Veteran Frieda Mae Green Hardin said, “In my 101 years of living, I have observed many wonderful achievements, but none as important or as meaningful as the progress of women in taking their rightful place in society. When I served in the Navy, women were not even allowed to vote.”

As VA celebrates Women’s Equality Day, I offer my particular gratitude to those women Veterans, whose courage and sacrifice helped demonstrate our equality as citizens to the nation. Thank you for your service, and for paving the way for the rest of us. And I promise the women Veterans of today – and tomorrow – that we are committed to ensuring they will receive equal care and benefits within VA.

Image of Kayla Williams and four other celebrating Women’s Equality Day at VA's central Office.

VA employees celebrated Women’s Equality Day this week at an event sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

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Published on Aug. 26, 2016

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  1. Gloria Wilson September 3, 2016 at 11:57 am

    I am one of the Women Veteran services with the U.S. Navy starting in 1983 and regrettably ended in 2011. I have served my country with dignity and respect for all others who did give their Life for this Great Nation! I am still in a fight for equality with the BCNR to get the Retirement Benefits, I so fairly deserve and have earned with my blood, sweat and tears to keep this Nation Great! I have volunteerd to serve my country overseas, during wartime & conflicts, on land, air and on the seas! I fight now for equality as a disabled veteran for the rights I have so honestly earned and will not give up until justice is served!

  2. Wil Laguatan September 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Those you make negative comments do not make sense. Like anything else in this country, when something is published like this one “women equality”, there are those who make comments to the contrary. If you who make these negative comments are true to what you are saying, why don’t you take the initiative to do something better. Criticizing the efforts of a few people’s work for the good is not going to do justice. Unless you do something to improve whatever you think is not right in your opinion, you’re just criticizing, it’s not going to rectify anything.

  3. Kim Kay c McCarty Martin August 30, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I have a face book page I am the coordinator for. It’s women veterans MT American Legion. I like to post informative and helpful information but everything on this site will not allow me to post. Is there a way I can post these articles for other women vets to get a chance to read? I am the Department of MT American Legion Women Veterans coordinator. Thank you Kim Kay c McCarty Martin

  4. Randall August 29, 2016 at 9:07 am

    This appears to be awesome event and job well done!! To the commenters that feel left out, stay tuned and be sure to get involved with all the planning activities that go into an event such as this. I have no doubt there are a tremendous number opportunities to engage throughout the year. Sometimes the outreach will come to you and sometimes via initiative, intellectual curiosity, etc. you simply have to go get it!

    Randall Webb, USAF (ret)
    Member HUD Veteran’s Affinity Group (VAG)

  5. Jolisa Dudley August 28, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Jolisa Dudley (in purple) and the host for the event is also a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.

  6. Claudette Williams August 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    How do you reach out to women veterans. I served from 1985-2014 and ended my career as a Sergeant Major, and would have love to be a part of the celebration.

  7. Linda Munn Violante August 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Not much diversity in the picture above with the black women, one black male and one white woman. I know for a fact we have more diversity with races and colors than what you are showing. Shame one all of you. Did not even know it was, “Women Equality Day”. USN Hospital Corpsman 1969 to 1972. Linda Munn Violante

  8. Megan Moloney August 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Nailah, yes, several of the employees pictured above, including the author, are Veterans. You can read more about her here: http://vaww.blogstest.va.gov/VAntage/27446/kayla-williams-to-serve-as-director-of-vas-center-for-women-veterans/

  9. Nailah Baderinwa August 26, 2016 at 10:28 am

    It’s interesting that on Women Equality Day, the only pictures I’ve seen are female VA employees celebrating this fact. Are they also Women Veterans? If not, couldn’t some Women Veterans also be pictured celebrating this equality day? As a Woman Veteran (USN, 1970-1975) it seems to me that if there are Women Veterans who work at the VA, why aren’t they pictured? Just wondering.

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