News: Soldiers celebrate women’s equality
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Soldiers and civilians deployed to northern Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn, paid homage to women’s struggle for equal rights during the Women’s Equality Day celebration at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Aug. 26, 2011.
During the celebration, sponsored by the United States Division – North Equal Opportunity Office, participants honored women who paved the way for female service members by sharing poetry and highlighting the importance of men and women working together as equals.
Keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Mary Krueger, division surgeon, U.S. Division – North and 4th Infantry Division, said the differences between men and women should be recognized as strengths meant to complement each other.
“When we talk about equality, we ask the question ‘Are men and women the same?’” Krueger said. “I say, ‘Thank goodness no!’ We are equally valuable but we are wonderfully unique.”
Men and women alike should be looked at for their individual strengths and proficiencies instead of their gender, said Krueger.
“Match the skill set to the task,” Krueger said. “Don’t look at the gender of a person to decide whether they can do it or not. Look at their skills, and then assign the right person to the task.”
The event highlighted the progress women have made in gaining equal rights and acceptance over the course of history, said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Kennedy, medical logistics specialist, Company B, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division.
“Women’s Equality Day is just a reminder of how much women have persevered,” said Kennedy who hails from Baltimore. “Because of our persistence, we will continue to gain momentum in our society, and to fight for the things that we want.”
Kennedy said she is proud of the strides women in the military have made overcoming stereotypes and prejudices to become valuable assets in the defense of their country.
“I’m proud that I am a woman in the military,” she said. “We are (deployed) every day, brothers and sisters in arms, side by side to protect the Constitution and the American way of life.”
Events like the Women’s Equality Day ceremony bring service members closer together, building a stronger fighting force and closing the gaps that can grow between soldiers of different genders, races or backgrounds, said Master Sgt. Jennifer Lane, operations non-commissioned officer, Division Signal Section, Company C, DSTB, 4th Inf. Div.
“For some people, I think the presentation really opened their eyes to what women have achieved in the military and in the work force,” said Lane. “I think the more we know about each other, the better our workforce becomes. Yes, we have come a long way and I think we will continue to battle. Women have to prove themselves where men do not but … we have come a long way.”