As 33,000 US troops prepare to leave Afghanistan before the end of the year, more Afghan women are being trained as members of the Afghan national army’s Special Forces.
It is a radical move in an ultra-conservative country.
Out of the 195,000 military members in Afghanistan, only 1,000 are female.
The women are learning how to conduct night raids in homes, something which has caused friction when carried out by US troops, because of cultural sensitivities such as not being allowed to touch a family’s Quran and not entering a family’s home unless invited.
Female member of the joint Special Unit of the Afghan National Army Lena Abdali said:
“I think women have the same working ability and ethos that men have, but only if they can use this ability by show resistance and courage, working shoulder to shoulder with their brothers.”
The female soldiers have been recruited into the Special Forces since 2011, moving women and children to safety and searching other women – a taboo for men.
Half of the 66,000 US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan this year.