CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The Camp Zama community celebrated Women’s History Month with a variety of events last week to highlight and empower women on the installation.
The weeklong celebration, which was a broader effort than in recent years, featured a luncheon, job and volunteer fair, as well as creative and fun activities to bring the community closer.
On Thursday, 14 community members were awarded certificates of appreciation during the luncheon to recognize their contributions and support to women.
“As women, we empower and encourage each other almost every hour of every day,” Terry Owens, lead organizer, told attendees. “As I look across this room today, I see sources of inspiration that are the embodiment of strength, character and determination.”
Owens then introduced each of the awardees and spoke of their recent accomplishments.
Among them, Bryanna Nelson, spouse of a 311th Military Intelligence Battalion officer, showed her altruistic nature by volunteering for multiple organizations, including as president of the Zama Community Spouses Association, Owens said.
Nelson spearheaded the Zama Culture Club, which had more than 10 off-post outings for members to experience Japanese culture, Owens said, adding she also provided emotional support and necessary resources to help a family in crisis.
Nelson said she was honored to receive the award, and for the privilege to be around other women she called “powerhouses” in the community.
“This is a gathering of the strongest women of Zama who really keep Zama going,” she said.
Noriko Muroi, who works in U.S. Army Japan’s G-6 office, was also honored for stepping up to help her short-handed office tackle questions and requests.
Muroi, who originally joined the office as an administrative specialist, took it upon herself to learn information technology skills and become a program analyst to better serve its customers.
“She has taken the initiative to continuously learn new skills and her attitude is always wanting to improve and never fearing change,” Owens said. “She is the symbol of a strong woman.”
Muroi said she was surprised about receiving an award for her work. To her, she was only doing what she had to do to assist her team.
“One of my supervisors told me that ‘teamwork makes the dream work,’ so I just played my part," she said, adding her team members also helped her improve her skills.
Madeeha Mehmood, chief of USARJ’s Political-Military Division, provided remarks during the luncheon as the guest speaker.
She described herself as a “professional trouble maker” who aims to push people to dare more and challenge the status quo mindset in the workplace.
“I'm the person who is looking at other people and saying, ‘we need to fix this,’” she said. “I want to leave this world better than we found it.”
Mehmood, spouse of a naval officer, told the women in the audience to not be silent and learn to be comfortable saying the difficult things.
“On Women's History Month, I am giving this speech to a room full of accomplished women,” she said. “And it's not lost on me that I am only here because of women before me who also spoke up, who also chose to be the disturbance. I encourage you all to do the same.”
At the start of the celebratory week, Owens led a meditation and yoga session at the Camp Zama Youth Center gym that had several women participate.
"This was our way of saying, ‘let's get our minds right for this week,’” said Lucinda Ward, an Army Community Service specialist who also helped organize the events.
A “cookies and canvas” event took place Tuesday at the Arts and Crafts Center here to get children involved and channel everyone’s creativity, Ward said.
As the military moving season ramps up, organizers also decided to hold a job and volunteer fair Wednesday at the Community Club here with more than 10 organizations, including Japanese companies.
“They're not always aware of the opportunities that are here locally,” Owens said of community members, particularly military spouses, “so we thought this was a good way to get people engaged in the community.”
A modeling fair was then held Friday at the Community Club, which allowed military youth and adults to speak with local modeling companies on the prospects of being featured in advertisements.
“I just believe this is one of those epic weeks for Camp Zama, because it's never been done before,” Ward said about the activities, which also included a planned karaoke night and ‘90s party.
Through these activities and interacting with fellow community members, Owens hoped that women would feel more empowered to take the initiative to influence organizations and inspire others.
“We want to make sure that our young ladies know, as well as our women know, that there is a seat at the table for you,” she said. “There always will be.”