Empowering, enabling women world-wide

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Haux
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Women in American society have an interesting history. From not being able to contribute anything to our government to having a female Secretary of State; from not having woman in the military to having women attain the rank of general, the U.S. has come a long was as a nation.

To celebrate the achievements of women, March is designated as Woman's History Month with activities to empower women around the nation.

"It should be a celebration every day," said Senior Master Sgt. Amber Mitchell, Kisling NCO Academy commandant. "It's good that we pick a month, but we should celebrate our differences every day because when we recognize our differences we also recognize there are strengths to bring to the table. Every day, I am proud to be a woman in the military."

Being wowed every day by the Airmen and what they accomplish for the mission is what Mitchell looks forward to on a regular basis.

"In my 16 years, just the fact that we still have firsts is amazing," said the Kentucky native. "It tells me we are moving in the right direction but it also tells me we still have a way to go.

"One of the coolest parts of my job is I get to hang out with our international partners. They don't have the same views we do when it comes to women in the military," continued Mitchell. "When international partners come to see the Kisling NCO Academy and see how the U.S. does [Professional Military Education], they get to see my face and that's kind of cool. It may not change the way their countries do business but if anything else, they have my face to put with the United States Air Force."

With all the achievements of women, there are many females who paved the way for others to live out their dreams.

"It's great to be able to look up to women who have gone before us," said Col. Denette Sleeth, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa space forces director. "Take the [Women Airforce Service Pilots], they said, 'We want to do this,' and they did. As a female in the Air Force you have to look up to those women who took that step and made things happen."

Having those women to look up to and having a positive role model to talk with every day can mean the world to some Airmen.

"Master Sgt. Liz Bolin, who is now deceased, was my first female influence when I came into the Air Force," said Mitchell. "Right away, even when I was in training, she was dedicated to me and made sure I felt welcome, made sure I was doing what I was supposed to and corrected me when I needed it, but she did it in a helping way. That time she gave meant the world to me."

Women were given many opportunities over the years, allowing them to do just about any job they wish.

"The Air Force has made an effort to level the playing field for women and that's a great thing," said Sleeth. "I love the fact more jobs are opening up for women. I, for example, was a group commander at a launch wing and got to launch rockets for a living. How awesome is that? If someone is capable of doing a job, they should be given the chance, who cares if it's a woman?"

As a woman, being true to oneself, unafraid to ask questions and learn can be just as empowering as having someone to look up to, said Mitchell.

"We're more comfortable with our role as women in the Air Force now because we are Airmen warriors and have answered our nation's call just like anybody else and that's important," Mitchell said.

Woman's History Month offers several things for females in the military to think about, not only this month, but for the rest of their lives.

"Women should follow their dreams, if there is something you want to do, go for it and don't let anything stop you," said Sleeth. "Women were given some opportunities earlier on and it's good to show women today what we have accomplished in the past and show them that if there is a barrier, break it down!"