SINGAPORE (NNS) -- The U.S. military community in Singapore recognized Women's Heritage Month and International Women's Day, March 8, with a celebration to honor the enduring contributions of American women in service to their nation.
The year's theme centers on "honoring women who fight all forms of discrimination" and pays tribute to women who have shaped the nation's history, culture and laws to bring equality and inclusion to all Americans serving in the U.S. military, civil-service and the private sector.
Headlining the event was Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, charge d'affaires ad interim, U.S. Embassy Singapore. A former naval officer and career diplomat, Syptak-Ramnath spoke about the necessity of creating environments in which women have the opportunity and role models for success.
"That's an important thing to remember as we join together today to honor women who fight all forms of discrimination; that no woman is an island unto herself, but rather a product of men and women around her who taught her to see something inside herself that mattered, and created an environment in which she could dream and work and succeed," said Syptak-Ramnath. "Environments matter, and in my experience, the U.S. military is one of the best environments in the world to allow people to succeed on their own merit and with a sense of equality of opportunity."
The event was hosted by the local U.S. Navy Diversity and Heritage Committee, a group responsible for organizing monthly heritage celebrations for the U.S. military community in Singapore. The event provided an opportunity for men and women to come together, share experiences and celebrate the sacrifices made by generations of American women in uniform and within the civil-service.
The charge d'affaires shared her own experiences growing up on military bases and working in the U.S. Navy, and the belief that both fostered within her that everything was possible.
"Because I grew up in the military and my first job was in the military, I simply never had a sense that women were somehow unequal to their male peers." While admitting to having faced her share of challenges, Syptak-Ramnath noted, "I never once doubted my ability to do the job or compete successfully for the next rank or be 100 percent fairly rewarded at work. And I think that simply was because there were too many role models around me demonstrating that women could and would succeed."
American women began serving in the U.S. military as nurses dating back to the 1800s, most notably during the Civil War when the Sisters of the Holy Cross served aboard USS Red Rover, the Navy's first hospital ship. In 1948, women gained permanent status in the Navy with the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. In 1993, the U.S. Congress rescinded the combat exclusion law which cleared the way for women to serve on combatant ships and aircraft.
Today, women serve in every rank from seaman recruit to admiral in the U.S. Navy, and hold nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver. Nineteen percent of the Navy's enlisted force are women, including eight percent of all senior and master chiefs. Eighteen percent of the officer force and 11 percent of all admirals are comprised of women.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Commander, Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf73/.