Monday, December 19, 2005

Uplifting, Literally

KABUL, Afghanistan – Khatol Mohammadzai, a senior officer in the Afghan National Army, recently became the first Afghan woman inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame in Washington D.C., where she was recognized for the impact she has made on the lives of Afghan women and men.
“Being invited to America is something I never thought would happen. I broke all the chains women have faced in my country to be here today. I am honored to be here with other strong women from all over the world,” Mohammadzai said.[snip]

Mohammadzai , Afghanistan ’s only female paratrooper, serves as the deputy head of the Afghan Ministry of Defense Education Department.
She was only 16 when she took her first leap for Afghan women by parachuting from an airplane. In 1982, after her husband’s death, she quit her studies in law at the University of Kabul and joined the army, eventually leading to a career spanning two decades. [snip]

She has always championed the underprivileged, taking every chance to bring light to their situation. During a recent celebration marking Afghanistan ’s New Year’s Day, Mohammadzai parachuted into the event carrying a sign that read: “We want education, employment and salaries for widows, orphans and handicapped people.” It was her first parachute jump in more than six years and she was greeted by cheering crowds that showered her with flowers.
Under the rule of the Taliban, when many Afghan officers escaped to neighboring countries, Mohammadzai stayed and continued to serve her countrymen and women. The female paratrooper was forced to give up her passion and earned a living working from home through approved women’s tasks such as sewing, weaving scarves and making mattresses.
She had to hide her uniform under the floorboards of her living room, but that didn’t stop her from trying to educate women. With her mother acting as a lookout, she taught local women how to read and write by candlelight in her home. She knew she was putting her life at risk by defying the Taliban, but she didn’t care, she said.
“Education is important. Never stop learning and educating yourselves. You can become the future doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, technicians, policewomen and soldiers of a new Afghanistan . If I can do it – you can do it too,” she explained.
After the Taliban were removed from power, she very promptly dug up her uniform, dusted it off and “reported for duty.”

Go Read The Rest

As they say in the United States, you go girl!

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