The Defense Department “must continue to be open and inclusive as we strive to bring in America’s best talent, including from our extraordinary community of women, who make up more than 50 percent of the American population,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in his written message in observance of International Women’s Day.
“Today is International Women’s Day, a moment to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women around the world from our past and present,” Carter wrote. “From Margaret Corbin’s heroism during the American Revolution, to the first Navy WAVES during World War II, to the first women soldiers who graduated from the elite Army Ranger School last year, women have been serving, fighting, and contributing to the security and prosperity of our great nation since its founding, and continue to do so today.”
For the nation to succeed in its national defense mission, it cannot afford to cut itself off from half the country’s talents and skills, Carter wrote.
“We have to take full advantage of every individual who can meet our high standards,” the defense secretary continued.
Opening All Military Occupations to Women
“That’s why I recently announced that DoD is opening all military occupations and positions to women,” he wrote. “Going forward, this will enable our military to better harness the skills and perspectives that talented women have to offer.”
The department has made other important strides to empower women around the globe, Carter wrote.
“Through the implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, DoD is supporting programs aimed at advancing women’s inclusion in peace building and conflict prevention processes, and addressing the impact of violence and conflict on women and girls,” he wrote. “Through courses and seminars hosted by DoD’s regional centers and geographic combatant commands, we encourage our friends and allies to expand the recruitment and retention of women in their security sectors and the incorporation of gender perspectives into their peace and security policy.
“Also, in training partner militaries in peacekeeping operations,” Carter continued, “our forces help equip them to better prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.”
Today and every day, “let us pledge to continue our work to advance the status of women and girls worldwide and to build the future strength of the finest fighting force the world has ever seen by harnessing the talents, skills, and perspectives of 100 percent of America’s population,” he concluded.