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Opportunities Benefit All, Though Only Some Serve

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2001 – Vickie McCall thinks the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services has made such strides at home that it might have a role in helping to open military opportunities to women in other countries.

McCall, committee chairwoman, said she believes opening military opportunities to women ultimately helps all women in a society.

"Women that may have not had any opportunity to increase their education or to get any kind of education are now getting some training that their culture just wouldn't allow for otherwise," she said in a recent American Forces Information Service interview. "When you educate people you can't help but benefit a culture or a society. It's a way to benefit all women in the country even though you're just starting with a select group."

She used recent strides women in Jordan have made in entering military service as an example of how military service for a few can benefit the many. For the first time, the Jordanian army is allowing women to serve in uniform. Several hundred are serving as military police, McCall said.

Because of cultural taboos in Jordan, the medical screenings the women received were the first time most had ever been checked for breast cancer. "As a result of that, they recognized a rather disproportionately high incidence of cancer," she said. "This might not have been detected if the women hadn't organized and been introduced into the military. So now we're going to see some health initiatives directed toward the Jordanians … to try to understand why their cancer rate is high."

McCall is afraid American service women may take for granted the opportunities increasingly available to them since DACOWITS was born in 1951.

"We get real concerned about this field or that field that's not open to women," she said. "And yet when you look across to other shores, we have women whose female children are being murdered or women not being availed of any kind of quality of life. So I guess you have to put it in perspective."

U.S. military personnel should see themselves as role models in women's equality, McCall said. "We have the best force in the world; there's no doubt," she said. "We have a military that gives women opportunities that they would not have in other countries."

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