FORT CARSON, Colo. -- More than 120 Fort Carson community members and Soldiers attended the 2012 Women's History Month observance March 19 to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments made by women.

"National Women's History Month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women's historic achievements across all cultures and ethnicities," said Master Sgt. Stella Arning, Disability Evaluation System noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
This year's observance theme, "Women's Education -- Women's Empowerment," offers the chance to take a look back at the women who shaped the world of education, Arning said.

"Pioneers of secondary education for young women faced arguments from physicians and other 'experts' who claimed either that females were incapable of intellectual development equal to men, or that they would be harmed by striving for it," Arning said. "Women's supposed intellectual and moral weakness was also used to argue against coeducation."

Arning said women's equal opportunity to learn is possible due to Title IX of the Education Codes of the Higher Education Act Amendments. This legislation, passed in 1972 and enacted in 1977, prohibited gender discrimination by federally funded institutions. It has become the primary tool for women's fuller participation in all aspects of education from scholarships, to facilities, to classes formerly closed to women. It transformed the educational landscape of the United States within the span of a generation.

"As Americans, ours is a legacy of bold independence and passionate belief in fairness and justice for all. For generations, this intrepid spirit has driven women pioneers to challenge injustices and shatter ceilings in pursuit of full and enduring equality. During Women's History Month, we commemorate their struggles, celebrate centuries of progress and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security and dignity of women in America and around the world," said President Barack Obama in the annual proclamation.

Sonia Esquivel, keynote speaker, said women today have been provided a gift from the women who have gone before them.

"As we celebrate Women's History Month, we pause to dream about the future and how we can be effective leaders," Esquivel said. "We have the freedom to choose our path in life and we are not limited in choosing our careers as our grandmothers once (were). We use the rights we have earned to maintain the freedom for the girls and women who will follow."

Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, commended Esquivel's perseverance and tenacity in her personal life and agreed that though there has been progress for women, still more needs to be done.

"It is also important to understand and to recognize both the tremendous achievements and barriers that have been overcome by women in our nation's history. More importantly we must recognize that there are still hurdles remaining … and only we as a people can prevent these by supporting equality across our great country," Anderson said.