The role women have played throughout the history of the Air Force was the focus of an International Women’s Day event held in the Middle East and attended by personnel on Operation Accordion.

The March 8 event, led by Chaplain Karen Haynes and Corporal Leah Aspinall, was organised for the Women’s Integrated Networking Groups (WINGS) and held in the lead-up to the March 31 Centenary of the Air Force.

The Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force was formed during World War II, and followed by the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force.

Women were integrated into the Royal Australian Air Force in 1977.

Defence personnel currently deployed to the Middle East region watch a multimedia presentation on the history of women in the Air Force at an International Women's Day event. Photo: Sergeant Ben Dempster

Chaplain Haynes said the gathering was an opportunity to not only recognise the service of so many women through the years, but also acknowledge the progress that has been made in regards to equality.

“As we reflect, we realise life gives different opportunities to different generations,” Chaplain Haynes said.

“Looking at our history and the efforts to seek equality, women have always looked for opportunities to serve their country, just like their male counterparts in the frontline seeking to defend our nation.

“The journey is still being taken, but we are so much closer to our goals than ever before.”

Along with a focus on the Air Force history, the gathering also acknowledged the United Nation’s theme for this year: Women in Leadership - Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World.

Corporal Leah Aspinall said the roundtable discussion produced some lively conversation, with everyone keen to offer input.

“International Women’s Day offers a great opportunity for collaborative thinking and hearing from women in different roles across the Joint Task Force (633),” Corporal Aspinall said.

“Importantly, it gives women a space to celebrate the progress we’ve made and the possibilities of service that lie ahead.

“International Women’s Day may be one day, but the recognition and dialogue helps develop and progress actions which can go forward across the other 364 days of the year.”

Defence personnel currently deployed to the Middle East region gather to celebrate International Women's Day. Photo: Sergeant Ben Dempster