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June 23, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Women in the draft take equality to new heights

Women today are encouraged to lean in, fight for equal pay and break glass ceilings. This is easier said than done, as challenges remain in many industries. One unlikely institution, however, is breaking the mold by offering equal pay and equal opportunity to all genders and ethnicities: the U.S. military.

First, Defense Sec. Ash Carter announced last year that he was opening all combat jobs to women. Women no longer face restrictions regarding where they can serve and what they can do. The sky is the limit, military ladies.

Next, just last week the Senate voted to approve a bill that included an amendment requiring women to register for the Selective Service. Currently, men ages 18–25 are required to register, yet women are not. Though the U.S. hasn’t had a draft since the Vietnam War, registration of both men and women would dramatically increase the number of people in the Selective Service System.

While the bill still has a long way to go before becoming law, opponents are already speaking out. I am baffled by the double standard. If women want equality, it can’t be situational. We already live in a world where that’s the case, and it’s what we’ve been protesting for generations. We must demand equality and fully embrace what that means — both the good and bad, from the boardroom to the battlefield.

As a female veteran of the Air Force Reserve, the training, experience and educational benefits I received have been invaluable. I know I will support and encourage my two young daughters to serve, should they decide or be required to do so. I believe this amendment and Defense Sec. Carter’s decision set a healthy precedent that could encourage more women to join the military. These developments are important in terms of equality, responsibility and unity.

Equality: If women want to be treated equally to men, we should expect to serve equally. Requiring women to sign up for Selective Service removes yet another difference between genders. Plus, though women are still a minority in the military, it is one of the few “employers” that actually provides women equal pay to their male counterparts.

Responsibility: Protecting our country is everyone’s responsibility. Whether or not you agree with the military’s mission, you benefit from the safety and security it provides in the place you call home. Plus, the Selective Service has an Alternative Service Program available, if you identify as a conscientious objector should another draft occur.

Unity: Having to register for the draft when of age would become a common experience, and I believe it would increase unity throughout populations. We live in a diverse country. The nation is a melting pot of different religions, heritages and viewpoints. However, most people feel the country is more divided than ever before (simply check out 2016 election coverage for an example). Wouldn’t it be great if we could rally around a common mission?

Equal pay and plentiful opportunity? The tides are changing for women’s equality, and the ladies leading the way are proudly wearing a U.S. military uniform.