New Zealand Defence Force trainers are helping Afghan women blaze a trail against inequality – training Afghan women as military officers.
CAPTION: Female Afghan officer cadets march past the podium during a muster parade at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy near Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo supplied by NZDF.
Currently 10 per cent of the 900 Afghan cadets training to be officers at the NATO-supported Afghan National Army Officer Academy outside Kabul are women, with 30 set to graduate this month.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said this showed a significant shift is under way in the traditionally conservative Muslim state, where for years the Afghan National Army had been largely the domain of men.
“But that’s changing. About 3300 officer cadets have trained since the Officer Academy opened in 2014, with 150 of these so far, or about 4 per cent, being women,” Major General Gall said.
“Although the total number of female cadets may seem low, it is significant because it shows that Afghan women are eager to be part of efforts to secure their country’s future.
“It is also encouraging more women to join the military there.”
The NZDF has 13 troops in Afghanistan supporting NATO’s mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.
Eight of the NZDF troops work with personnel from the United Kingdom, Australia and Denmark to mentor instructors at the Officer Academy, who will train the officer cadets.
The 12-month training programme covers field craft, navigation, tactics, first aid, weapon proficiency, planning, leadership, command, and physical fitness.
Major General Gall said an important feature of New Zealand’s contribution in Afghanistan was to ensure its impact would be enduring, with Afghan trainers being mentored by the NZDF to build and sustain the Afghan National Army Officer Academy training capacity.