Andersen ‘Weaves the Stories of Women’s Lives’
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A number of events were held here honoring Women's History Month to recognize the strides women have made throughout the years to gain acceptance and equality for all women.
Officially in 1987, Congress declared March as Women's History Month, which is the time to honor the accomplishments of women and the continuous progress toward achieving gender equality in the military.
Starting as early as 1775, women were able to serve in U.S. military camps as cooks, laundresses, and nurses but only with the permission of the commanding officer. Around the 1800s, women were given the opportunity to fill administrative positions, have minor health care jobs, and serve as spies. With the efforts, determination and gumption of those many women, they eventually proved themselves to be just as capable as their male counterparts.
This year's theme was "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives."
"Women's History Month accounts for all the inequalities women had to face through voting and job equality," said Master Sgt. Joleen McCollister, 36th Force Support Squadron first sergeant. "It brings a huge recognition and shines light on the fact that women have overcome these obstacles and we are just as equal as anybody else out there."
Throughout the month, several events took place here to celebrate and recognize women of the past and present. The events were arranged by a committee made up of six members.
This year's festivities started March 6 with a 5K run that reached more than 150 participants. Following that a panel of career women visited the elementary and middle schools on base reaching out to 320 school children.
"For the panel we brought women in that are in male-dominated career fields to talk about their experiences and of any hurdles that they had to overcome," said McCollister. "They pointed out to not let anyone tell you that you can't do anything because you're a girl."
Some of these speakers included an explosive ordnance disposal technician, a firefighter, a security forces member, and a combat arms instructor.
The observance committee also put together a showing of the documentary "Girl Rising" which took place at Arc Light Memorial Park. The movie told the story of nine girls from nine countries around the world and their struggles to overcome societal and cultural barriers and their efforts to gain equality.
To conclude Women's History Month, there was a luncheon at the Sunrise Conference Center with two guest speakers: Tanya McMillan, Air Force retiree, and Elizabeth Duenas, local restaurant owner. The speakers discussed past experiences and obstacles they faced earlier in their career and how they grew from them.
Equal pay, voting rights, and technical careers were simply dreams for women in the past, but because of their supreme sacrifice and struggles, those are now the rights of all women. Today, women have the opportunity and obligation to ensure that their hard work and determination is carried on to the next generation.
Some prime examples of bravery and determination of women in the military include people such as Deborah Sampson who from 1782-1783, served in General Washington's army, disguised as a man, to fight during the Revolutionary War, and Colonel Linda McTague who became the first woman commander of a fighter squadron in U.S. Air Force history in 2004.
Also, Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces Command commander, became the first PACAF female commander.
"The way I look at it is that we are creating history ourselves being women in the military," said Master Sgt. Maureen Perez, 36th Force Support Squadron first sergeant. "It has been a good opportunity to be able to be a part of the committee and to learn about women's history and what they had to go through."