In a welcome development, the first group of women commandos in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) completed their training at the Nowshera Elite Force Training School recently. They will now be posted to different cities across K-P and have been trained in urban warfare to tackle threats of militancy in the province. The decision to set up the first women’s special operation force was taken around six months ago and since then, 35 women have been trained. According to the provincial government, the induction of women into the special force is important for eradicating terrorism, and on graduation day, the new workforce expressed its determination to tackle militancy and said their training has prepared them for all combat scenarios.
Women from Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar, among other cities, were part of the training, which is a huge step forward in a traditionally conservative society and will help in the struggle against women’s exclusion from the workplace and in reducing gender biases. At the same time, efforts are needed to ensure that the initiative bears fruit and women can work without the kind of harassment and discrimination they face in many professions. Including women in professions that are traditionally considered to be only meant for men is a positive initiative for our society, where the list of careers considered not fit for women is a long one. It is time we made all efforts to ‘normalise’ the presence of women in public spaces and in jobs that require dealing with the public. In the long term, this will help change mindsets with respect to what spaces are considered acceptable for women to tread upon. In many homes today, women still need the permission of male family members to seek employment, while judgments on character are passed with ease on those who work in male-dominated environments. The initiative to include women in multiple departments of state forces may help change opinions on that front. Gender equality, or any steps towards achieving it, is much-needed and this initiative is a highly welcome one.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.