By Marisa Rivera
Women have always been warriors. Warriors fighting for equal rights.
Warriors who have long battled barriers in the workforce as they
fought for equality with their male colleagues, and that includes their
participation in the armed forces. Those battles continue as women demand
equal access, equal pay, and equal representation at the highest levels. Women
also continue to struggle to fight for equality from roles imposed by society that
keep us on double duty. Although we have gained the right to enter the labor
force and the military ranks, we are still expected to fulfill the roles of household
CEOs, caregivers, cooks, mothers, and wives.
At the beginning of this century, women did not have the right to work
outside of the home, to get an education, the right to vote, the right to be part of
the armed forces, the right to birth control, to own property, and today we
continue to fight for equal pay. Women have fought, marched, and have been
incarcerated while trying to achieve equality.
The history and role of military women throughout the years has been
fascinating. Women in the military have fought long and hard for equality, respect,
and recognition. Not only have women been an integral part of every major
conflict involving the U.S., they’ve done so while also fighting for basic rights
and equalities, both in and out of uniform. Female service members have faced
unique challenges throughout history and worked to not only overcome them
but to prove their worth and value in major ways.
From the battlefields of the American Revolution to the deserts of Kuwait, to
Afghanistan, and these past two years, being at the front line combating the war
against the COVID-19 pandemic, women have been serving in the military in
one form or another for more than 200 years. They have had to overcome
decades of obstacles to get to where they are today: serving in greater numbers,
in combat roles and in leadership positions worldwide.
Women continue to make history in the military today. Since
the opening of combat positions to women (2015), several female
service members have trained to step into new roles, sign up for, and
complete the most rigorous training programs required to serve in
some of the most elite military groups. “Over the past six years, 50
women have graduated from the Army’s Ranger School, and others have
successfully completed Navy SEAL officer assessment and selection, proving
their capabilities in even the most rigorous and challenging of assignments”
(USO). As the history of women in the military clearly shows, female service
members are a force to be reckoned.
Female participation in the U.S. military workforce has been steadily rising
over the past 50 years. In 1970, women accounted for less than 40% of the
civilian workforce and less than 4% of the Armed Forces. Today, women account
for 59% of the civilian workforce (Gallup 2020) and less than 17% of the
active-duty military, according to a Government Accountability Office. If we look
at the statistics below, more Latinas are serving than Latino men, and the same
holds true for Black and Asian groups (statistia.com).
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Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a
motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership
and empowerment consultant. Marisa@ Mpowerment
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