By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Everett
EVERETT, Wash. – Sailors and DoD civilians celebrated Women’s Equality Day with a ceremony in the Grand Vista Ballroom on Naval Station Everett (NSE), Aug. 26.
The ceremony, designed to recognize the history of the women’s rights movement and the great strides that the country and Navy has made toward equality, included guest speakers and a static display on the history of women’s rights.
“Without the history of suffrage, women would not be where we are today,” Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/SCW) Melinda Torrey, the Multi-Cultural Committee coordinator for NSE. “This is just educating [Sailors] and appreciating the importance of our culture and diversity.”
During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander, Navy Region Northwest, and Judith Prince, president of the Everett branch of the American Association of University Women, spoke.
“Rear Admiral Bolivar is a prime example of women and how much you can accomplish,” said Torrey.
Prince gave an overview of the women’s suffrage movement, and discussed how this history is still important today. Prince said it is important for Sailors to get out of their normal routines and be reminded of what has taken place in the past.
“I think it’s good for people in the Navy to hear,” said Prince. “You have to have breaks from doing your regular routine business, and this is helping.”
Women’s Equality Day was established in 1971 as a way to commemorate the long struggle for generations of women to gain their right to vote. Now, the observance also calls attention to the ongoing efforts made by women to establish full gender equality.
Torrey said that Women’s Equality Day is part of the overall effort of the Navy to promote acceptance and diversity. NSE’s multi-cultural committee also celebrates other days that promote cultural diversity.
“To embrace each others differences, to enhance diversity, that is why we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, why we celebrate Native American Heritage Month … it’s to let them see a part of history and how it enhances us as a whole,” said Torrey. “Having these kind of events kind of puts it together so we can appreciate one another … it’s supposed to build camaraderie.”
Women entered naval service for the first time in 1908 with the establishment of the Navy Nurse Corps. Today, 54,537 women serve in the Navy, making up 17 percent of the total force, and nearly 50,000 women also serve as civilian Navy employees in a wide variety of occupational specialties.