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III MEF Hosts Women’s Leadership Symposium

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan  — III Marine Expeditionary Force held the 2012 Women’s Leadership Symposium at Camp Hansen June 28.

The purpose of the seminar was to bring female servicemembers on Okinawa together to discuss issues specific to their gender.

“ I believe we stand on the verge of something very exciting,” said Col. Krista J. Crosetto, the opening speaker at the event and the assistant chief of staff, G-1, manpower, personnel and administration, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “We have gathered here today to address and find the origins of (gender) issues.”

The symposium was geared toward female servicemembers but did not exclude males.  This gave an opportunity for senior enlisted and officers to give guidance and advice on issues they faced and many they still face today, according to Lance Cpl. Carla C. Lowe, an attendee and a motor vehicle operator with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF.

“This is not about women power, it’s about empowering yourself,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Danielle M. Hendges, a guest speaker at the symposium and the aviation supply chief with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF. “The uniform doesn’t define you; it’s what you do and how you grow that defines us.”

The event was organized into four workshops addressing common issues found throughout the Marine Corps, said Master Sgt. Rafika O. Vann, the event organizer and equal opportunity advisor with III MEF.

“We don’t want to discriminate against anyone; we are simply trying to get a better understanding of and find a common sense approach to addressing issues unique to the female gender,” said Vann. “If gone unaddressed, (these issues could) affect our command climate and the entirety of the Marine Corps and Navy.”

Most of the topics discussed were not specific to women but are often only addressed from a man’s prospective, according to Vann. Women’s views were openly voiced and expressed during the symposium.

“On any given day the male lance corporal or lieutenant has a 10 times greater chance to see a senior male than females have of seeing a senior female,” said Vann. “The mentorship just isn’t available as much for women. This is why the symposium is such an integral part of our (command) climate and is so important.”

The attendees were mentored by 15 senior Marines and sailors who held the workshops, providing them with advice and wisdom they had gained during their time in the Marine Corps and Navy.

“This symposium was very empowering,” said Lowe. “The fact that they took the time out of their day to give us guidance on leadership and to share their knowledge from their experiences was truly inspiring.”

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