White Sands Missile Range Commander Col. David C. Trybula, left, and 1st Sgt. Yancy Hampton, right, present 1st Sgt. Crystal Y. Ramirez, center, a certificate of appreciation for speaking at the Women's Equality Day at White Sands Missile Range on Aug. 29, 2019. (Photo Credit: Pvt. Luis Castaneda)
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - Celebrating Women's Right to Vote was the theme for Women's Equality Day at White Sands Missile Range on Aug. 29. Attendees learned about the struggles of the 70-year long journey for women's right to vote. A short film focused on the National American Woman Suffrage Association and its founders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The event's guest speaker, 1st Sgt. Crystal Y. Ramirez, Alpha-4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, provided insight into her career as a female. She started by explaining her resistance against male Soldiers' tendency to try to take charge despite her higher ranking. Ultimately, she held her ground and gained the respect of those around her. She addressed the male Soldiers in the audience, thanking them for their support. "You all have embraced working along and sometimes for females and so did the males that came before you," said Ramirez. "I want to thank you all sitting here for embracing females and accepting them as your equals." During the speech, Ramirez acknowledged that gender equality affected her more than she realized. In the past, women were limited in what they could do in the Armed Forces. Thanks in part to previous female Soldiers and her hard work, Ramirez' ability to move up the ranks is unstoppable as an air defender, a position not available to women until 1972. "My mentors, all-male, treated me equally; there was nothing that I couldn't do," said Ramirez. "I didn't realize it, but that is what gave me my voice." Joining the Army in 2006, Ramirez has a long list of accomplishments. She deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom, was the first female NCO to serve in the Honor Guard, and NCO of the Quarter in the New England Recruiting Battalion. "When my junior enlisted females and my female NCOs told me they appreciated that I treated them like my male Soldiers, I hadn't realized I was doing that because I didn't give it any forethought," said Ramirez. "We are all equal." Ramirez' final message for all leaders, both male, and female, is to treat others like human beings and not as a gender. Women began participating as activists during the movement to abolish slavery in the 1800s. Inequality prevailed for the women fighting for the slaves, which led to the realization and fight for gender equality. Several activities took place for years in support of women's rights to vote, petitions, conventions, conferences, and political movements. In 1916 women's rights became a platform for Democrats and Republicans, kick-starting the legislative process. The result of the fight was the ratification of the 19th Amendment, adopted by the United States Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920. This Amendment gave American women the right to vote in all elections.