NATICK, Mass. – Education can empower women.
That message was delivered March 21 at the U.S. Army Garrison Natick, by Lt. Col. Iris M. Sobchak, the command inspector general for the Massachusetts National Guard. Sobchak served as guest speaker for "Women's Education -Women's Empowerment," the Women's History Month program offered at Hunter Auditorium.
"I firmly believe that education is one of the top two most empowering issues for women in the United States and around the world today," Sobchak said. "The other issue is equal protection under the law."
Sobchak, who holds a bachelor's degree in international/strategic history and international relations from the U.S. Military Academy and a master's degree in history from Pennsylvania State University, said she has devoted her entire life to education.
"I am totally committed to the idea of being a lifelong learner," said Sobchak, who once taught history at West Point. "I believe that when you turn your back on the possibility of learning more about the world, then there is a loss of wonder and excitement for life."
Sobchak pointed out that she inherited a love of education from the women in her family. She added that her great-grandmother had five children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, all of whom became college graduates.
"I'm really talking to you about this not to brag but to show you how one woman whose emphasis on education can transform an entire family's history and better lives," Sobchak said. Sobchak noted how dramatically women's access to education has increased in this country over the past century.
"So many are in the workforce now that they are overtaking men and providing the primary (wage-earners) for families," Sobchak said. "It's a statistical fact that women who have higher education are less likely to be teen mothers; they're less likely to live in poverty; they're less likely to have drug addictions and alcohol addictions; they're less likely to commit child abuse and neglect; and they have longer life expectancies."
Women's access to education couldn't have been achieved without the help of men, Sobchak said. "So thank you to all those supportive men out there," she said.
For each year of education beyond high school, a woman improves her lifetime income by 15 percent, according to Sobchak.
"All of society benefits when women are empowered to seek good educations," Sobchak said. "We can build a better society through this message. Our future rests on … how educated our society is going to be,” she said.