Breaking down barriers

In a first, three Christian women have been appointed police officers in Khyber Agency

Editorial April 09, 2016
Newly-recruited Christian tribal police woman Naila Jabbar hangs a calendar on a wall at her home in Landi Kotal in Khyber district on April 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Change is coming to Pakistan in quite unexpected ways. Joining the ranks of women making the news this year are three Christian women who have been appointed police officers in Khyber Agency. Theirs is a world far removed from the cricket pitch where Sana Mir and her team made the headlines during the World Twenty20. It is as different as it is possible to be from the glamour of the Oscars where Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won plaudits and quite unlike the research laboratories in which Dr Mavalvala carved out a place for herself. But the achievement of these women is no less important than that of their more internationally celebrated counterparts. They have made history by having the courage to join a male-dominated workplace in one of the most conservative parts of the country. Their appointment as police officers is a victory both for the women of Khyber Agency and for its religious minorities and may open doors for both groups to increase participation in various professions traditionally restricted for them.

The three women were chosen from a pool of 15 women candidates who applied for the post in which their tasks will include carrying out body searches on the Torkham border crossing, as well as joining their male counterparts in making house raids. Khyber Agency has now joined the rest of the country in which security forces have already understood the importance of having female officers. Officials in the area have expressed hope that the recruitment of these three women will encourage others to apply. For the newly appointed female officers, this is an opportunity to empower themselves economically and to uplift their families from the debilitating poverty which haunts the Christian population of Khyber Agency. These young women, all in their early twenties, describe themselves as “drops of rain” for their families and the same sentiment is echoed by their employers. It is hoped that they will indeed prove to be the agents of change that the women and minorities of the tribal areas need.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2016.

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