Eglin celebrates Women’s Equality Day

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs


EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Women’s Equality Day event was held here Aug. 23.  This year’s theme was “Embrace Equity.”

This Aug. 26 marked the 103rd anniversary of Women’s Equality Day.  The date commemorated the 1920 passage of the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. 

The women’s suffrage amendment went to the United States Congress for the first time in 1878.  Finally, the Amendment received approval from both the House of Representatives and Senate in 1919.

Over the following year, suffragists lobbied to have the amendment ratified by the required two-thirds of the states. 

Tennessee, the final state needed for ratification, narrowly signed the approval by one vote on Aug. 18, 1920.  The amendment was signed into law on Aug. 26, 1920.

Sandra Nunes, 96th Medical Group and retired chief master sergeant, served as the event’s guest speaker.

“Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality,” she said in her remarks.  “I would love to think we’re still pushing forward and not staying stagnant because we think we’re ‘there.’  We’re definitely not there.”

Nunes joined the Air Force at age 17, after seeing the success of her older brother, who joined the Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps recruiter she tried to visit dismissed her before they ever spoke.

“He was on the phone, looked at me and then looked away,” Nunes said.  “He didn’t hold up a finger to say hold on, he didn’t motion for me to sit down, nothing.  He ignored me.”

She recalled being angry about the incident, thinking she was disregarded because she thought he would tell her that women couldn’t serve in the Marines.  Her rage soon turned into excitement when she saw the next service branch representative, further down the hall.

"The Air Force recruiter was standing in the hallway next to the exit door,” she said.  “He was willing to talk to me.  The rest was history.”

Nunes said though she had a great 27-1/2 year Air Force career overall, one significant slight stood out for her.

As a staff sergeant stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 2003, she volunteered to be a translator for Peruvian soldiers hosted at a nearby Army reserve unit.

“My flight commander, squadron commander and group commander all told me no because I was a girl,” she said.  “That was when the fighter in me kicked in.  I saw something that was unjust.  I had to voice it.  Most importantly, I did something about it.”

By addressing her concerns to her chain of command. Nunes became a translator for the Peruvian soldiers.

“It took the soldiers about four days to warm up to me, but they eventually did,” she said.

In conclusion, Nunez encouraged the audience to respectfully address any issues, behaviors or injustices they face to make a difference.

Chief Master Sgt. Sevin Balkuvaar, 96th Test Wing command chief, gave closing remarks.

“Today’s celebration serves as a reminder that we all have the responsibility to further what’s been done, to continue to build a culture that gives both women and men an equal voice," she said.  “We have made a difference and will continue to make a difference for future generations who see how far we’ve come and continue to embrace equality.”