MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Every year since 1987, the month of March has been an opportunity to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the nations’ women through Women’s History Month. It is a time designed to broaden the knowledge about the contributions women have made for our country.
The history of the military has had its fair share of women supporting it. From Joan of Arc, the medieval French soldier who led the resistance against an English invasion during the Hundred Years War to the Marines with the female engagement team working alongside infantry Marines today.
The theme of this year’s Women’s History Month is “Women’s Education-Women’s Empowerment.”
“Education is paramount because it aids in the professional development of all,” according to Marine Administrative Message 074-12. “By educating our Marines we empower them and arm them with advantages both on and off the battlefield.”
Women struggled to gain an education in the past, and are now reaping the benefits of their battles. Now, more women than ever enter college and leave with a degree. Women are also expanding their careers.
“Women are in every area of our lives,” said Linda Carpenter, an equal employment opportunity specialist with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “They are in senate, in congress, in sports. They are the CEO’s of businesses. Women have an influence in every aspect of life. So we want to recognize their strength and their contributions to our nation.”
Carpenter acknowledges that women still face challenges in the workplace. For instance, while women are CEO’s they only account for three percent of Fortune 500 companies’ CEO’s. Carpenter said that while the glass ceiling won’t shatter overnight, with an education and endurance, it can be broken.
“The more people are aware and gain knowledge about people who are different than them the more inclusive they are,” said Carpenter. “It takes a diverse workforce to strengthen our nation. Look at the diversity of the Marine Corps. We all have strengths. We want to be able to draw from everybody’s strength.”
She credits the foundation laid by women’s suffragettes and the women who tended to service members as their nurses during previous wars for the success gained by today’s women.
“Our history is important,” said Lori Pringle, a fellow equal employment opportunity specialist for MCB Camp Lejeune. “If you can’t see where you came from, you won’t be able to see where you’re going. As any history teacher will tell you, you have to know where you’ve been to move forward.”
Carpenter feels that as women educate themselves, they should look back at the positives of the struggles faced, that they should look back at the qualities of the women who laid the path for women today.
“We have to look at the people who made a difference and we have to look at what they did to make a difference,” said Carpenter. “We should let that shape and mold our lives. (Women in the past) may have been in different circumstances but they all had tenacity, and strength. We all have strengths and good qualities, and we have to use those to propel us forward.”