For anyone who continues to doubt the role of women in the military (and I know such people still do exist), this story proves otherwise -- and then some. From start to finish, no male solider could have done what female marines Sgt. LaJuanna Baker and Cpl. Andrea Moreira-Rios did when a midwife in Afghanistan approached them and asked for their help delivering a local baby. Even if those theoretical male marines were trained obstetricians.
Why? Because the midwife and other local women surrounding the laboring mother would never have spoken directly to male soldiers to begin with, and certainly never would have allowed male soldiers to deliver a child. That's why for so long, it was as if the women and children's health care messages sent to countries like Afghanistan failed to be heard.
Hopefully that will all start changing now, thanks to Female Engagement Teams run by women like Sgt. Baker and Cpl. Rios.
The FET's mission that day, apparently, was to hand out "hygiene packets" at a local healh clinic and teach women how to use the items included. That's what Baker and Rios were doing when the midwife approached them, begging for aid.
Refusing to let the language barrier stand in their way, Baker and Rios pitched right in, holding the woman's legs and cheering her on. When the baby was born, they checked to see that he was breathing normally and made sure the new mom was well-hydrated with clean drinking water.
But as amazing as the experience of helping to bring one individual life into the world may have been, Baker, for her part, is even more excited about the ripple effect of her actions.
"It helped spread the word to the local women that females from other countries are here and want to help them," she said.
Do you think more female soldiers could help to improve foreign relations?
Image via DVIDSHUB/Flickr