March, National Women’s History Month

Commentary by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph P. Lyddane, 138th Field Artillery Brigade

female soldiers in afghanistan

Today’s events are tomorrow’s history:  Women continue play a critical role in military operations, particularly in developing relationships with local citizens. Agribusiness Development Team 3’s Female Engagement Team helps to educate and empower the local Afghan women. (File photo)

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Army Maj. Bobbie Jo Mayes presents the Physical Fitness Award to Army 2nd Lt. Cassandra Mullins during a commissioning ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 27, 2014. Mullins is not only a citizen soldier, but a Kentucky State Trooper who’s been recognized for her bravery. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — There are many reasons why every year in March the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom (Canada in October) reserve a full month of recognition to celebrate women. Among them are the many contributions made by females that have impacted the world. The sad truth is that throughout history many of the achievements made by women have been overlooked and marginalized.  In 1911 the first International  Women’s Day was organized, which was a benchmark event considering the social climate at the time.  In 1980 President Jimmy Carter signed into proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week; six years later the week transitioned to a full month.

Looking back at American history I am reminded of women like Susan B. Anthony who in the mid 1800s fought for social equality and collected anti-slavery petitions becoming one of the first women’s rights activists.  Sojourner Truth was an amazing person who escaped slavery and became the first black woman to win a case against a white man in the court and went on to recruit black troops for the Union Army during the Civil War.

As a military professional I think of courageous women like Harriet Tubman who ignored her own safety to become a spy for the Union Army and was one of the most prominent figures in humanitarianism and the abolition of slavery.  There is also Mary Hayes McCauley, who later became known as “Molly Pitcher” for her efforts to carry water to the men in the battle of Monmouth in 1778.

imagesCAHBJRQRDid you know that Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, called Kentucky home?  And 1st Lt. Anna Mac Clarke, who lived in Anderson County, stood up against discrimination more than a decade before Rosa Parks.

These names join the likes of Betsy Ross, Sacajawea, Amelia Earhart , Emily Dickenson, and the first female doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and thousands of others who made a lasting impression, along with the modern day females who continue to demonstrate courage by blazing a trail of their own.

Though tremendous strides have been made, a disparity still exists between men and women; the military still struggles with claims of sexual harassment and assault; and wage inequality is still prevalent between men and women in the workforce. By taking thirty days out of the year to recognize the women in our lives, the female leaders we admire, or the ones revered in our history books we can start to bridge these gaps and not only recognize the importance of equality but realize the benefits of diversity.

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Spc. Caitlin Viera, a paralegal specialist with the 201st Headquarters and Headquarters Company, lines up her next shot with an M9 pistol during the marksmanship portion of the 2015 Best Warrior Competition at Wendall H. Ford Regional Training Center.

Truth be told, one month is not enough; we need to embrace the accomplishments of women each and every day and recognize their potential 24/7. And why wouldn’t we? It’s the 21st Century, more than one hundred years since that first International Women’s Day.

And let’s face it: none of us got to where we are on our own. For most of us, a female was present to pick us up off the ground, dust off our jeans, and give us that push we needed to carry on! And for that I, for one, am grateful.

 

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