Camp Zama hosts Women's Equality Day observance
CAMP ZAMA, Japan - Ninety-five years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote and in 1971 Congress approved legislation proclaiming Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day. The 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, who was tasked to host this year's Women's Equality Day Observance at Camp Zama, initiated their planning for the event in a unique way.
"We wanted to do something different this year, to add diversity by involving as many people as possible and as many voices as possible, so we decided to have writing contest," said Command Sgt. Maj. Patrina Amos, command sergeant major for the 35th CSSB.
Amos said the 35th CSSB solicited the community for poems that could be recited during the observance that outlined the struggles of women, as they strive to gain equality in society today.
"The writer of the best submission would be rewarded with a gift certificate for $25, some U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) memorabilia, and a certificate of appreciation from the Maj. Gen. James Pasquarette, the commander of USARJ," said Amos.
The winner, Sasha Ridley, is new to Camp Zama. She has a background in international women's rights advocacy but answered the submission because she was inspired by her two daughters, who are 14 and 15 years old, said Amos.
"I was not going to provide a submission at first, but after my daughters described a situation they experienced at school, I felt compelled to write something," said Ridley.
"One of the coaches at their last school told them to do 'girly push-ups' - push-ups performed with their knees on the ground, during gym class," said Ridley, "and I was proud of my girls for telling the coach that calling them 'girly push-ups' was inappropriate, and that is what inspired me to write my poem."
A Poem for My Girls
I have to tell you what I saw today
An image that simply won't go away
A soft pink shirt, a long-sleeved Tee
That says, "Can't do math, I'm too pretty"
I have to tell you what I heard today
A mom who told her son at play
"Don't act like a girl when you kick the ball!"
As if being a girl is the worst thing of all!
I have to tell you I'm so proud of you
In this situation you knew just what to do
When your coach said just do the "girly" push-ups
You said "Don't use the word 'girl' as an insult. Enough"
I have to tell you what I believe
There are no limits to what you can achieve
That you're anything less is only a fiction
Walk through your life with steps of conviction
Women's equality is not just a thought
It's the spoil of battle that is still hard-fought
And though you'll face obstacles, heartache, and strife
Above all, be the heroine of your own life
Ridley credits the last line of her poem to American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director Nora Ephron.
Although the Women's Equality Day Observance also included an in depth look at the history of the Women's Suffrage Movement in the United States, Ridley's contribution really stood out, said Amos.
Ridley's poem reminded the audience that even though many strides have been made as fair as equality for women, we still have many gains to make before we eliminate social stigmas in our society, Amos concluded.