OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 2012

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NAVADMIN 051/12

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SUBJ/OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH 2012//



RMKS/1.  THIS NAVADMIN ANNOUNCES THE NATIONAL OBSERVANCE OF WOMEN'S HISTORY 
MONTH, 1-31 MARCH 2012.  THE NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE THEME FOR THIS 
YEAR'S OBSERVANCE IS "WOMEN'S EDUCATION - WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT."

2.  WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH ORIGINATED IN 1978, WHEN THE SONOMA COUNTY
(CALIFORNIA) COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN INITIATED A WOMEN'S HISTORY 
WEEK TO COINCIDE WITH INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY.  IN 1981, IN RESPONSE TO 
GROWING SUPPORT FOR THE WEEK, CONGRESS PASSED A JOINT RESOLUTION PROCLAIMING A 
WOMENS HISTORY WEEK.  IN 1987, THE NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY PROJECT, A NON-
PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO HONORING AND PRESERVING WOMEN'S HISTORY, 
PETITIONED CONGRESS TO EXPAND THE CELEBRATION TO THE ENTIRE MONTH OF MARCH.  
SINCE THEN, NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH HAS BEEN APPROVED BY CONGRESS EVERY 
YEAR AND COMMEMORATES THE DIVERSE CONTRIBUTIONS WOMEN HAVE MADE, AND CONTINUE 
TO MAKE, TO OUR NATION.

3.  TODAY, MORE THAN 54,000 WOMEN SERVE ON ACTIVE-DUTY IN OUR NAVY AND MORE 
THAN 10,000 SERVE IN THE NAVY RESERVE.  THEY MAKE UP 17.1 PERCENT OF THE 
FORCE, AND MAKE NUMEROUS AND DIVERSE CONTRIBUTIONS TO OUR MISSION AND 
OPERATIONS.  THERE ARE CURRENTLY 34 ACTIVE AND RESERVE FEMALE FLAG OFFICERS 
AND 59 FEMALE COMMAND MASTER CHIEFS LEADING FROM THE FRONT.  TODAY, 95 PERCENT 
OF NAVY BILLETS ARE OPEN TO WOMEN, AND WOMEN ARE ROUTINELY ASSIGNED TO SHIPS, 
SUBMARINES, AFLOAT STAFFS, NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALIONS, MEDICAL UNITS, AND 
AVIATION SQUADRONS.

4.  SINCE BECOMING AN OFFICIAL PART OF THE NAVY WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE 
NURSE CORPS IN 1908, WOMEN HAVE EXHIBITED AN EVER INCREASING INFLUENCE AND 
IMPACT THAT REMAINS IN OUR NAVY TODAY.  THOSE FIRST NAVY NURSES, KNOWN AS THE 
SACRED TWENTY, WENT ON TO PAVE THE WAY FOR WOMEN SERVING TODAY.  THE NAVY'S 
FIRST ENLISTED WOMEN, MORE COMMONLY KNOWN AS YEOMANETTES, PROVIDED PRIMARILY 
CLERICAL SUPPORT DURING WORLD WAR I, BUT ONLY FOR THE DURATION OF THE WAR.  IT 
WAS NOT UNTIL THE PASSAGE OF THE WOMEN'S ARMED SERVICES INTEGRATION ACT ON 12 
JUNE 1948 THAT WOMEN GAINED PERMANENT STATUS IN THE ARMED SERVICES.  THE FIRST 
SIX ENLISTED WOMEN WERE SWORN INTO THE REGULAR NAVY ON 7 JULY 1948 AND, ON 15 
OCTOBER 1948, THE FIRST EIGHT FEMALE OFFICERS WERE COMMISSIONED.  WOMEN WERE 
FIRST ASSIGNED TO SELECTED NON-COMBATANT SHIPS IN 1978, AND OPPORTUNITIES WERE 
LATER EXPANDED IN 1994 TO INCLUDE SERVICE ON COMBATANT SHIPS FOLLOWING THE 
REPEAL OF THE COMBAT EXCLUSION LAW.  MOST RECENTLY, IN APRIL 2010, THE NAVY 
ANNOUNCED A POLICY CHANGE TO ALLOW WOMEN TO SERVE ON SUBMARINES, AND THE FIRST 
FEMALE SUBMARINE OFFICERS REPORTED FOR DUTY NOVEMBER 2011.

5.  THE SPIRITED AND COURAGEOUS EFFORTS OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY 
HAVE SHAPED OUR LEGACY.  ON 3 AUGUST 1942, LCDR MILDRED H. MCAFEE WAS SELECTED 
AS THE FIRST FEMALE OFFICER AND SUBSEQUENTLY THE FIRST DIRECTOR OF THE WOMEN 
ACCEPTED FOR VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY SERVICE (WAVES).  A VETERAN OF TWO WORLD WARS 
AND DIRECTOR OF THE WAVES FROM 1946 TO 1953, CAPT JOY BRIGHT HANCOCK PLAYED A 
CRITICAL ROLE IN THE PASSAGE OF THE WOMEN'S ARMED SERVICE INTEGRATION ACT.  IN 
1959, WHILE SERVING AS ASSISTANT TO THE GLOBAL STRATEGY OFFICER AT THE NAVAL 
WAR COLLEGE IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, NAVY YEOMAN ANNA DER-VARTANIAN BECAME 
THE  NAVY'S FIRST FEMALE MASTER CHIEF, AS WELL AS THE FIRST WOMAN IN THE ARMED 
SERVICES TO BE PROMOTED TO E9.  DURING THE VIETNAM WAR IN 1972, CDR ELIZABETH 
BARRETT BECAME THE FIRST FEMALE LINE OFFICER TO HOLD COMMAND IN A COMBAT ZONE 
WHEN SHE BECAME COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE NAVAL ADVISORY GROUP IN SAIGON.  IN 
1974, LT BARBARA ALLEN RAINEY EARNED HER WINGS AND BECAME THE FIRST FEMALE 
U.S. NAVAL AVIATOR.  IN 1990, LCDR DARLENE ISKRA BECAME THE FIRST WOMAN TO 
COMMAND A NAVY SHIP.  IN 1998, CDR MAUREEN A. FARREN BECAME THE NAVY'S FIRST 
FEMALE COMBATANT SHIP COMMANDING OFFICER.  IN 2002, MASTER CHIEF JACQUELINE 
DIROSA BECAME THE NAVY'S FIRST FEMALE FORCE MASTER CHIEF AND, IN 2006, SHE 
BECAME THE FIRST FEMALE FLEET MASTER CHIEF.  IN 2007, CAPT SUNITA WILLIAMS, A 
NAVAL AVIATOR AND NASA ASTRONAUT, SET THE RECORD FOR THE LONGEST UNINTERRUPTED 
SPACE FLIGHT BY A FEMALE ASTRONAUT.  IN 2010, RADM NORA TYSON BECAME THE FIRST 
WOMAN TO COMMAND A CARRIER STRIKE GROUP.

6.  ALL COMMANDS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO INCREASE THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND 
AWARENESS OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN TO OUR NAVY AND NATION BY CELEBRATING 
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH THROUGH PROGRAMS, EXHIBITS, PUBLICATIONS AND 
PARTICIPATION IN MILITARY AND COMMUNITY EVENTS.  A PRESENTATION AND PRINTABLE 
POSTER IS AVAILABLE ON THE DEFENSE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE WEB 
SITE AT HTTP://WWW.DEOMI.ORG/SPECIALOBSERVANCE/PRESENTATIONS.CFM?CATID=3.
MATERIALS ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN NAVAL HISTORY CAN BE FOUND AT 
HTTP://WWW.HISTORY.NAVY.MIL/SPECIAL%20HIGHLIGHTS/WOMEN/WOMEN-INDEX.HTM
AND HTTP://WWW.PUBLIC.NAVY.MIL/BUPERS-
NPC/ORGANIZATION/BUPERS/WOMENSPOLICY/PAGES/WOMENSHISTORYMONTH.ASPX.   
INFORMATION ON THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN TO OUR NATION'S LEGACY CAN BE FOUND 
AT HTTP://WOMENSHISTORYMONTH.GOV/ AND HTTP://NWHP.ORG/.

7.  INDIVIDUALS AND COMMANDS ARE ALSO ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEA 
SERVICE LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATION'S (SSLA) JOINT WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP QQQQ 
SYMPOSIUM 5-6 MARCH 2012 HELD AT THE NATIONAL HARBOR IN MARYLAND.  DURING THE 
CONFERENCE, THE RECIPIENTS OF THE 2012 JOY BRIGHT HANCOCK LEADERSHIP AWARDS 
AND 2012 MASTER CHIEF ANNA DER-VARTANIAN LEADERSHIP AWARDS WILL BE HONORED.  
MORE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT HTTP://WWW.SEALEADER.ORG/LEADERSHIP-
SYMPOSIUM-SUMMARY.

8.  MORE INFORMATION ON DIVERSITY CONFERENCES, EVENTS, AND OBSERVANCES ARE 
AVAILABLE AT THE NAVY DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION WEBSITE:
HTTP://WWW.NPC.NAVY.MIL/COMMANDSUPPORT/DIVERSITY.

9.  POINT OF CONTACT IS ENSIGN AMBER LYNN DANIEL, OPNAV N134, AT
(703) 604-5071 OR VIA E-MAIL AT AMBERLYNN.DANIEL(AT)NAVY.MIL.

10.  RELEASED BY VICE ADMIRAL S. R. VAN BUSKIRK, N1.//

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