The Fort Leonard Wood Community came together Monday afternoon to mark the movement for women's equality.
A luncheon and program were hosted by the 1st Engineer Brigade and featured Col. Marie Dominguez, commander of the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, as the guest speaker.
Before introducing Dominguez, Col. Daniel Larsen, 1st Eng. Bde. commander, briefly shared his thoughts of women's equality, by sharing a story from his own life.
"I am a product of women's equality," he began. "In the late 1970s, early 1980s, as a young man, I watched my single mother put herself through college and then later law school while she had three children."
He said his mother ultimately rose to be one of the top lawyers in the South Carolina Blue Cross/Blue Shield organization.
Larsen thanked the large crowd in attendance for taking the time to recognize the fight for women's equality and turned the program over to Dominguez, who spoke about the history of women's suffrage and the work that still needs to be done.
The medial commander shared that she began her career as an enlisted soldier. She said she first looked into the Navy, determined to see the world.
"I said, I want to be on a ship, and go from port to port to port and see the world," Dominguez said. "Does anybody know what the Navy's restrictions were in 1978? No women on ships. They said, 'Well young lady, you won't be able to sail on the ship, because women don't go on ships.'"
So she said she chose the Army.
After sharing a bit of her career history, Dominguez spoke about the history of women's equality, focusing on the path of women's suffrage.
"The important point to remember here is, it's a long, long road," she said, referring to the fight for women's votes.
Dominguez walked the audience through a basic history of women's suffrage, speaking about the Seneca Falls Convention and some of the prominent leaders of the women's equality movement. In 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by lawmakers, which gave full voting rights to women. A majority of states ratified the amendment the following year.
"It is an interesting fact to me that not all of the states ratified the 19th Amendment until 1984 … when Mississippi finally ratified the 19th Amendment," she shared.
Dominguez said that much progress has been made since then. Women now make up nearly half the U.S. workforce, attend colleges and universities at a higher rate than men and earn the majority of higher education degrees.
But she said work still needs to be done. Women are often paid less than their male counterparts in a number of jobs and hold a fraction of the highest level jobs or board positions.
Dominguez spoke about possible ways for women to overcome pay and job appointment disparities, including taking part in mentoring activities and setting clear career goals.
"I think the disparities can be overcome," she said, urging the entire audience to take control of their lives and futures, and to continue striving to be the best they can be.
Each year, Women's Equality Day focuses on a theme. The 2012 theme is "Celebrating Women's Right to Vote."