OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY 2012

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SUBJ: OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY 2012 UNCLASSIFIED/ FM CNO WASHINGTON 
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NAVADMIN 251/12

MSGID/GENADMIN/CNO WASHINGTON DC/N1/AUG//

SUBJ/OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY 2012//



RMKS/1.  THIS NAVADMIN ANNOUNCES THE OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY ON 26 
AUGUST 2012.  THIS DAY COMMEMORATES THE 1920 PASSAGE OF THE 19TH AMENDMENT TO 
THE CONSTITUTION, GRANTING WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

2.  THE WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT BEGAN IN 1848 AT THE SENECA FALLS CONVENTION 
IN SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK, CONVENED BY SUFFRAGIST LEADERS ELIZABETH CADY 
STANTON AND LUCRETIA MOTT.  THE RESULTING DECLARATION OF SENTIMENTS, WHICH 
OUTLINED KEY SOCIAL, CIVIL, AND POLITICAL DEMANDS FOR WOMEN, HELPED THE CAUSE 
OF WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE GAIN NATIONAL PROMINENCE.  NEARLY 72 YEARS OF CEASELESS 
CAMPAIGNING BY A COALITION OF SUFFRAGISTS, TEMPERANCE GROUPS, REFORM-MINDED 
POLITICIANS, AND WOMEN'S SOCIAL WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS LED TO THE PASSAGE OF 
THE 19TH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION ON 26 AUGUST 1920, PROHIBITING STATE 
AND FEDERAL AGENCIES FROM PLACING GENDER-BASED RESTRICTIONS ON VOTING.  TO 
HONOR AND COMMEMORATE THIS HISTORIC EVENT, IN 1971 NEW YORK CONGRESSWOMAN 
BELLA ABZUG INTRODUCED, AND CONGRESS SIGNED A RESOLUTION TO DESIGNATE AUGUST 
26TH AS WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY RECOGNIZING THE ANNIVERSARY OF SUFFRAGE AND OF 
WOMEN'S CONTINUED EFFORTS TOWARD EQUAL RIGHTS.

3.  THERE ARE NEARLY 65,000 WOMEN, ACTIVE AND RESERVE, SERVING IN OUR NAVY 
TODAY, COMPRISING OVER 17 PERCENT OF THE FORCE.  ADDITIONALLY, NEARLY 50,000 
WOMEN SERVE ACROSS OUR NAVY IN A WIDE RANGE OF SPECIALTIES AS CIVILIAN 
EMPLOYEES.  THESE TALENTED FEMALE OFFICERS, SAILORS, AND CIVILIANS ARE A KEY 
COMPONENT OF OUR TOTAL FORCE, AND THEY ARE AN INVALUABLE ASSET TO THE STRENGTH 
OF OUR NAVY.

4.  ALTHOUGH WOMEN HAVE SERVED IN AND WITH THE NAVY SINCE THE AMERICAN 
REVOLUTION, THEY DID NOT BECOME AN OFFICIAL PART OF THE NAVY UNTIL 1908 WHEN 
CONGRESS ESTABLISHED THE NAVY NURSE CORPS, 12 YEARS BEFORE WOMEN GAINED THE 
RIGHT TO VOTE.  THE NAVY'S FIRST ENLISTED WOMEN, MORE COMMONLY KNOWN AS YEOMEN 
(F), PROVIDED CLERICAL SUPPORT DURING WORLD WAR I, BUT ONLY FOR THE DURATION 
OF THE WAR.  NURSES REMAINED THE ONLY WOMEN IN THE NAVY UNTIL THE SERVICE 
LAUNCHED THE WOMEN ACCEPTED FOR VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY SERVICE (WAVES) PROGRAM IN 
1942.  DURING WORLD WAR II, 85,000 WAVES SERVED AT NAVAL SHORE ESTABLISHMENTS 
ACROSS THE NATION AND OVERSEAS, INCLUDING 81 NURSES HELD AS PRISONERS OF WAR 
BY THE JAPANESE.  THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THESE NAVY WOMEN AND THEIR COUNTERPARTS 
IN THE OTHER SERVICES CONVINCED MILITARY AND CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS THAT WOMEN 
SHOULD HAVE A ROLE IN THE PEACETIME ARMED FORCES.  WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE 
WOMEN'S ARMED SERVICES INTEGRATION ACT OF 1948, WOMEN GAINED PERMANENT STATUS 
IN THE ARMED SERVICES.  OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN INCREASED DRAMATICALLY DURING 
THE 1970S.  CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL ZUMWALT ISSUED A SERIES OF 
MANDATES FOR CHANGE KNOWN AS Z- GRAMS.  IN 1972, Z-GRAM 116 EXPANDED THE ROLE 
OF WOMEN IN THE NAVY.
IN 1973, THE SUPREME COURT RULED IN FAVOR OF EQUAL BENEFITS FOR THE DEPENDENTS 
OF MILITARY WOMEN, AS WELL AS ABOLISHING PREGNANCY AS A REASON FOR MANDATORY 
SEPARATION.  PRESIDENT FORD SIGNED PUBLIC LAW 94-106, OPENING THE U.S. NAVAL 
ACADEMY TO WOMEN BY THE FALL OF 1976.
IN 1978, THE NAVY STARTED ITS "WOMEN ON SHIPS" PROGRAM, ASSIGNING WOMEN TO 
NON-COMBATANT SHIPS.  OPPORTUNITIES WERE LATER BROADENED TO INCLUDE SERVICE ON 
COMBATANTS IN 1994, FOLLOWING THE REPEAL OF THE COMBAT EXCLUSION LAW.  WOMEN'S 
ROLES ON COMBATANT SHIPS WERE FURTHER EXPANDED IN 2011, WHEN THE FIRST GROUP 
OF WOMEN REPORTED ONBOARD SUBMARINES.  MOST RECENTLY, NAVY FEMALE MEDICAL 
OFFICERS, CHAPLAINS, AND CHIEF AND FIRST CLASS PETTY OFFICER HOSPITAL CORPSMEN 
ARE REPORTING TO SERVE AT THE BATTALION LEVEL IN THE MARINE CORPS GROUND 
COMBAT ELEMENT AS PART OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE WOMEN IN SERVICE REVIEW 
EXCEPTION TO POLICY.

5.  ALL COMMANDS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO INCREASE THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND 
AWARENESS OF WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY THROUGH PROGRAMS, EXHIBITS, PUBLICATIONS, 
AND PARTICIPATION IN MILITARY AND COMMUNITY EVENTS.  A PRESENTATION IS 
AVAILABLE ON THE DEFENSE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE WEB SITE AT 
HTTP://WWW.DEOMI.ORG/SPECIALOBSERVANCE/PRESENTATIONS.CFM?CATID=5.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE ROLES OF WOMEN IN THE NAVY CAN BE FOUND ON THE OFFICE 
OF WOMEN'S POLICY WEBPAGE AT HTTP://WWW.PUBLIC.NAVY.MIL/BUPERS-
NPC/ORGANIZATION/BUPERS/WOMENSPOLICY/PAGES/WOMENSEQUALITYDAY.ASPX
AND FROM THE NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND AT
HTTP://WWW.HISTORY.NAVY.MIL/SPECIAL%20HIGHLIGHTS/WOMEN/WOMEN-INDEX.HTM.

6.  MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WOMEN'S DIVERSITY CONFERENCES, EVENTS AND 
OBSERVANCES IS AVAILABLE ON THE OFFICE OF WOMEN'S POLICY N134W WEBPAGE AT 
HTTP://WWW.PUBLIC.NAVY.MIL/BUPERS-NPC/ORGANIZATION/BUPERS/WOMENSPOLICY/.

7.  POINT OF CONTACT IS OSC JESSICA MYERS, OPNAV N134W, AT (703) 604-5482/DSN 
664 OR VIA E-MAIL AT JESSICA.MYERS(AT)NAVY.MIL.

8.  RELEASED BY VICE ADMIRAL S. R. VAN BUSKIRK, N1.//

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