Peace Corps Celebrates National Womens History Month

March 11, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2003—This month, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez will join Peace Corps staff and volunteers in celebrating Women’s History Month. The month of March will include a variety of events that not only shed light on the accomplishments of women involved in the Peace Corps, but also the contributions of women throughout the U.S. and the world.

Peace Corps recognizes the special needs of girls and women and in 1998 made Girls’ Education a primary focus for the Agency. Girls’ Education is the variable most highly correlated to improvement in a community’s general well-being. The benefits of educating girls include: increased economic productivity; improved family health; lower fertility rates; and more effective investments in the next generation. Therefore, the increased role that women have played and continue to play within the organization is great. This is exemplified by the fact that 61 percent of all Peace Corps volunteers are women.

Women’s History Month was founded as a weeklong observance in 1978 in California and has since transformed into a nationally celebrated occasion. Among the events included in the Peace Corps’ observation of Women’s History Month are speakers, brown bag lunches, and panel presentations. Today, Peace Corps staff attended a panel discussion titled “Leading the Journey for Justice, Civil Rights and Opportunities.” Women who have succeeded in a variety of professions spoke on their personal "journeys."

The month-long celebrations began on Monday, March 3rd, when returned Peace Corps volunteer Melissa Bartlett spoke on the “Journey for Justice, Civil Rights and Opportunities” of women around the world. On Friday, March 7, a lunch was hosted to highlight the work of Peace Corps volunteers in women’s empowerment, and a panel discussion took place on female leadership in professional and international fields. Viewing of the film There's No Such Thing as Women's Work, which highlights women’s contributions to America, and a Women’s Wellness Fair will occur in the coming weeks.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 Volunteers have served in the Peace Corps working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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