“Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom,” quoted Amitabh Bachchan, a politician and film producer.
For centuries, women have worked behind and alongside men with little to no recognition or equality, but they have constantly pushed boundaries and exceeded expectations throughout history.
In 2019, women have continued to break glass ceilings by extending their roles in society and in the military as Soldiers, heroes, fighters, champions, paratroopers, commanding generals, Silver Star recipients and infantrywomen.
International Women’s Day began as a local celebration in 1971 and evolved into Women’s History Week in 1980 with a push from President Jimmy Carter. Since 1987, March is recognized nationally as Women’s History Month.
The Army has set aside March as a time for reflection and celebration of the many achievements of women in military history who have selflessly served, protected, and defended the country since the Revolutionary War. Women have risked their lives to support operations throughout every major military conflict, some even became prisoners of war or made the ultimate sacrifice.
Beginning in 1775, women served in the military in selective roles as nurses, seamstresses and cooks for troops in camps. Fewer females served in combat either alongside their husbands or disguised as men, while others served as spies.
During World War II, their roles were expanded to noncombat roles, including mechanics, pilots, clerks, and ambulance drivers. More than 400,000 women served in WWII, 88 were taken prisoner of war and 16 were killed in action.
With the congressional passing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, they were allowed to serve as members of the military during peace and war times.
Women are no longer only serving the country by filling noncombative, support roles as cooks, nurses, and administrators, but they are on the front lines, fighting with their male counterparts and defending the country. Today, women can openly serve as leaders in all jobs, in all branches of the military.
In a Sept. 25, 2018 interview, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel said since the Army opened infantry, armor, fire support and special operator jobs in 2015, there have been 783 women serving across five divisions.
While countless numbers of pioneering women have come already, the females serving today are breaking barriers and making their mark on modern military history.
Throughout the month of March, the Paraglide will highlight trailblazing Soldiers who are currently serving in the Fort Bragg community.