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What a difference 100 years makes

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote. This triumph came after 72 years of peaceful demonstrations, formally beginning at the world's first women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.
 
In 1971, Congress designated August 26 as "Women's Equality Day," celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment and drawing attention to the continuing quest for equal rights.

Many individuals in the women's rights movement showed incredible personal courage by placing themselves in male dominated professions, facing ridicule and harassment. These women include Harriet Quimby, the first American female to earn a pilot license in 1911, and Esther Blake, the first female to join the U.S. Air Force in 1948.

Today, we can see the great progress of the women's rights movement among our own leaders. The New Hampshire Air National Guard is proudly represented by three female generals: Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, N.H. Air National Guard commander; Brig. Gen. Deborah Carter, Chief of Staff for the N.H. Air National Guard; and Brig. Gen. Gretchen Dunkelberger, Air National Guard assistant to the Air Force chief nurse. The 157th Air Refueling Wing Command Chief is Chief Master Sgt. Brenda Blonigen.

However, it's premature to declare victory for women's equality in our society. In the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report of 2010, the United States ranked number 19 in terms of gender equality.

The U.S. Census reports that women make up 50.8 percent of the nation and half the workforce. However, men hold an extremely large percentage of the top management positions in most professions.

According to Catalyst, an international non-profit group with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business, women made up 31.5 percent of all lawyers but were only 19.5 percent of partners in U.S. law firms in 2010.

According to CNN, women currently run only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Regardless of profession, women in the United States earn a median weekly wage that's only 81 percent of a man's weekly median wage.

Women's rights are human rights. Inequality remains for many in our workplaces, but the work to achieve real equality continues.