Ensuring a future for women in the workplace in Afghanistan comes with challenges one Navy officer is aiming to meet.
As Senior Gender Adviser for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Captain Stacey Porter is an adviser to US four-star General John Nicholson.
Captain Porter is focused on increasing participation of women in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, and ensuring they do so in a safe and culturally accepting workplace.
“We need to ensure there are adequate policies, infrastructure, logistics and equipment in place so women are accepted and valued and can enjoy career progression and promotion,” Captain Porter said.
“In a country such as Afghanistan where societal, cultural, institutional and organisational barriers exist, this makes for a challenging but immensely fulfilling job.”
There were 109 Afghan National Army women undertaking basic training last year in Antalya, Turkey, which marked the first time a National Army training course had been conducted outside Afghanistan.
As well as cementing international relations, it resulted in a large increase in recruits for the Army, which has traditionally been slower in the uptake of women than their police counterparts.
A significant amount of work has been put into establishing training programs to professionalise the women in the Afghan National Defence Security Force, with literacy and computer training skills offered to serving women.
Women were also trained in non-traditional female roles, such as countering improvised explosive devices and radio maintenance.
“The challenge is moving from increasing recruiting figures to advising the Afghans on the development of a human resource strategy for women in the Security Forces,” Captain Porter said.
“Crucial to this has been the push to have females assigned to positions on the manning document so that adequate specialised training and career management can be achieved.”
Captain Porter said women were still not fully accepted in Afghan working environments, but training on human rights, women’s rights awareness, and anti-harassment training for both genders significantly increased in 2016.
“It is vital women are recognised for the value they add to the Afghan National Army and Police,” she said.
“The vision is that the Afghan security institutions and forces integrate United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, a gender perspective, respect gender equality and enable women to serve actively and meaningfully in the Afghan Security Forces to support peace-building efforts in Afghanistan.”