MNC-I honors women's efforts toward equality
September 1, 2009
- Corps celebrates women's equality
- Iraqi business women the future of Iraq
Approximately 200 Servicemembers gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate Women's Equality Day with skits, essays and a speech from Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown at Al Faw Palace.
The ceremony began with the national anthem and an invocation followed by proclamation that the evening ceremony provided an opportunity to pause and express deep appreciation to women for their countless contributions to society.
"It is especially noteworthy that we are celebrating Woman's Equality Day here in Iraq, as Iraqis, like Americans, continue in their journey to find the delicate balance of preserving tradition and promoting equality for women," Brown, Multi-National Corps- Iraq deputy commanding general for sustainment, said.
"Iraq is made up of about 63 percent women," Brig. Gen. William N. Phillips, Joint Contracting Command- Iraq and Afghanistan, said. "I believe that the women of Iraq will help build this country in a powerful way, they will engage and seek greater hope and prosperity, not only for themselves, but for their families and their children. I believe they are important to all we are doing in Iraq."
The mission of JCC-IA is to engage Iraqi businesses under an Iraqi first policy to help restore the economy. "Last year about 50 percent of all our dollars that we expended in Iraq, went to Iraqi first companies, of that $2.5 billion, almost $200 million went to women owned businesses," Phillips said.
In the last five months periodic vendor fairs conducted by JCC-IA have been targeting women owned businesses, growing the vendor base from about 800 to well over 1,300.
"This is an extraordinary day not only for our armed force, but for the women of Iraq, as we celebrate Woman's Equality Day and strive to do more for the women of Iraq, the government of Iraq and the people of Iraq," Phillips added.
Servicemembers from Task Force Courage performed two skits depicting gender roles of females during the 19th century and the events that led up to the signing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote.
"My grandmother was never afforded the opportunity or privileges my generation has," Spc. Brenda Allport, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, C2, said.
She participated in the skit to honor the women who paved the way for equal rights.
"Because of their struggle we've come a long way, and I am able to be here today, as a Soldier, to make a better way of life for those in Iraq."
Three Servicemembers then read their personal essay sharing what women's equality means to them.
The top essay was written by Cpl. Tessa Marsh, Multi-National Corps-Iraq Surgeon's medical treatment team. Marsh said she proudly serves as a combat medic, inspired by her great aunt who served in Vietnam and her mother who served as a medic in the 80's.
"Every day I am amazed how far women have progressed in the Army, from being a bedside nurse at a hospital in World War II all the way to the streets of Iraq with full armor and a loaded weapon standing toe to toe with adversity," Marsh read from the podium.
Following the essays, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sovanna Tanner, Defense Contract Management Agency, Sgt. 1st Class Betty Cobb-Worrell, 50th Signal Battalion, and Sgt. Major Marguerite Stubbs, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, C6, and Annie Stott recited excerpt from the Maya Angelou poem, "Phenomenal Woman." The performance was received with applause and cheers throughout the rotunda.
"Today let us remember all the women that courageously challenged the status quo of their time, to redefine the role of women both military and civilian," Brown said.
"Let us celebrate what we have accomplished, honor those who have worked for our betterment and keep working until we have attained equality for all."