(UPDATED) March Is Women’s History Month. 2018 Could be the Year of the Woman…Thanks to President Trump
Perhaps relevant as part of Women’s History Month, but certainly pertinent, please scroll to bottom to read about 10 extraordinary women who will be honored this Friday with the State Department’s 2018 International Women of Courage Award.
In February 1980, President Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.
In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity to honor the extraordinary achievements of American women
The Defense Department (DoD) has joined the nation in “honoring women who fight all forms of discrimination” as part of celebrating March 2018 as National Women’s History Month.
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Hope L. Skibitsky leads an all-female military training instructor formation to honor Women’s History Month at Joint Base San Antonio, March 9, 2018. Air Force photo by Ismael Ortega
In a DoD “observance memo” we read:
Both in uniform and through the civilian sector, American mothers, daughters, sisters and wives have selflessly served to defend and protect the land of the free and home of the brave. Even in grim situations and under austere conditions, these women have persevered—standing tall and strong as defenders of freedom, liberty and justice.
Today, more than ever, the female force is a significant and sizeable part of the Department.
More than 16% members of the 1.3 million-strong active duty military are women – many serving in combat roles –and more than 245,000 members of the 748,000-strong DoD civilian force are women (below).
DoD and military web sites are flush with stories of how women have contributed to the armed forces and to our nation’s defense since our country’s beginnings, especially during and since World War II when more than 150,000 women served in various support roles in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) including the intrepid WASPs — Women AirForce Service Pilots.
Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post suggests that, more than just Month of the Woman, 2018 could be the “Year of the Woman.”
Parker notes that women have had many significant accomplishments during the past 10 decades or so — from suffrage (1920) to the pill (1960) …to the #MeToo movement (2017) — and that “Women now outnumber men in college, graduate school, and medical and law schools; three of the nine Supreme Court justices are female; and, incrementally, women are reaching the dubious objective of serving alongside men in combat roles.”
However, Parker adds, “[o]ne area where women remain underrepresented is in state legislatures, governor’s offices and the U.S. Congress, the final frontiers for the battles that matter most.”
Parker points out that, in the House, “At least 431 women are running or are likely to run for the House this year — 339 Democrats and 92 Republicans…[while] two years ago, the number at this point was 212.”
And on the Senate side, “an astonishing 50 women are running or are likely to run, twice the number as in 2016,” says Parker.
Republicans have plenty to worry about, warns Parker, describing scenarios where Democrats can flip the House and turn the Senate blue in November.
It should be noted that a similar “phenomenom” is taking place at the state level, where in November, “6,066 state legislative seats are up for grabs, and more candidates — particularly on the Democratic side — are running for state legislative seats than have in decades.”
If 2018 really becomes the Year of the Woman, “to whom should we pay homage?” asks Parker.
Not surprisingly, the answer is “None other than President Donald J. Trump.”
“Thanks to a series of issues and comments underscoring his apparent contempt for women who aren’t subservient to his appetites, political or otherwise, the weaker sex is fighting back,” Parker maintains.
The torrid sexual scandals coming back to bite this president almost daily now, bolster Parker’s claim.
In a world “which has been made worse by the current occupant in the White House and his supporters in Congress, [t]he scope and magnitude of Trump’s offensiveness to many women cannot be overestimated, Parker concludes, “Nor would it be wise to underestimate women’s determination to clean House (and Senate). They’ve had it. The swamp ain’t seen nothing yet.”
On Friday, March 23, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards ceremony at the U.S. Department of State to honor 10 extraordinary women from around the world.
Now in its 12th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the State Department has recognized more than 120 women from more than 65 different countries. U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries. The finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials.
These are the ladies:
Roya Sadat of Afghanistan
Aura Elena Farfan of Guatemala
Dr. Julissa Villanueva of Honduras
Aliyah Khalaf Saleh of Iraq
Sister Maria Elena Berini of Italy (nominated by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See)
Aiman Umarova of Kazakhstan
Dr. Feride Rushiti of Kosovo
L’Malouma Said of Mauritania
Godelive Mukasarasi of Rwanda
Sirikan Charoensiri of Thailand
Each of the bios is moving and impressive. They can be read here.
Although nearly impossible to select one over another, here is one that particularly impressed me.
It is on Aliyah Khalaf Saleh, who is known as Umm Qusay in Iraq.
Umm Qusay is 62 years old and was born in the Iraqi province of Salah al-Din, not far from Tikrit. She became a national hero in Iraq despite early challenges such as not having had the opportunity to attend school and being married at the young age of 13.
The State Department:
She is a volunteer humanitarian recognized for her bravery in rescuing young Iraqi military cadets ambushed by ISIS on June 12, 2014, the day of the Camp Speicher Massacre. Umm Qusay and her family saw the cadets jumping into the river to save themselves and although they were suffering from the recent loss of their own family members at the hands of ISIS, they had the presence of mind to take action. Umm Qusay rescued 58 recruits over a period of five months. She hid them in small groups, provided them with I.D. cards from the local university to hide their identities, and prepared their escape routes. She took care to teach the Shi’a how to pray as Sunnis to avoid coming to the attention of ISIS. Umm Qusay, a Sunni, believed strongly that each young boy deserved her care whether Christian, Kurd, Turkmen, Yezidi, Sunni, or Shi’a. Her selfless actions in the wake of ISIS’s terror have already been recognized in Iraq, including by the highest Shi’a religious authorities who bestowed on this Sunni woman the title of “Toa’a Al-‘Asr.” Toa’a today is used to describe women who place the wellbeing of others before themselves. In July 2015, Prime Minister Abadi presented her with Iraq’s Medal of the State. Four years on, Umm Qusay continues to receive tribal leaders, military officials, and citizens who want to meet and embrace the Iraqi woman who serves as a beacon of hope for their country in the wake of its liberation from ISIS. She regularly cooks for soldiers and visits the wounded in hospitals. In a tribal society where women are often marginalized or forgotten, and sectarianism is generally placed before nationality, Umm Qusay is a vivid embodiment of the message of a common humanity. In her own words, “We are all created by God. We are all the same”.
Lead photo: Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a Retired Marine Corps combat fighter pilot and mother of three, is running for the seat of Andy Barr, the current U.S. House Representative of Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s day, The Purple Heart Foundation is featuring Lt. Col. Amy McGrath