News: Female Afghan General speaks at ISAF Coalition Women’s Equality Celebration
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lawn
KABUL, Afghanistan – Excited chatter filled the air as the crowd awaited the featured U.S. and Afghan female military guest speakers. As the crowd filed into the room, voices silenced into a dim hush as each of the speakers took their turn at a Coalition base in Kabul to celebrate Women’s Equality Day Aug 26.
One of the guest speakers was Brig. Gen. Khatool Mohammadzai, director of education and training, Afghan Ministry of Defense. Afghan born and raised, she has been serving in the Afghan army since 1984. She has more than 29 years of service not only in service as an accomplished Afghan female combatant command officer, but as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and equality.
She has earned a black belt in judo, taekwondo and karate. Mohammadzai is Afghanistan’s first female paratrooper with more than 500 parachute jumps, 300 jumps being in 34 countries, to her credit. She is also internationally recognized, in her quest for women’s rights and equality. In 2005, Mohammadzai travelled to Washington, D.C. to the Women Embracing Risk Through Courage event. In 2006, she represented the Afghanistan government at the Gender Development Training in the Philippines.
Mohammadzai, through her interpreter, spoke of her efforts. She spoke of freedom and equality for everyone, and how “everyone is deserving of such and should demand their rights.”
Her zeal for equality and advancement as a human being and as a female officer in the Afghan army demanded to be told.
Following the event, Mohammadzai answered questions about what the Women’s Equality Day celebration meant to her, a little about her time in the Afghan military, and what she felt was her biggest accomplishment. Through the use of an interpretor, these were her answers.
1st TSC – General Mohammadzai, what does today’s celebration mean to you?
Mohammadzai – I am very excited to be here, it is an excellent celebration. It is a message for young and old to stand up and fight for their rights. When you know and respect your own rights you will respect everyone else’s.
She added - Mankind is born free they shall live free and they should have their rights and freedoms to do what they like.
1st TSC – How do you feel your life has changed throughout your military career?
Mohammadzai – The military is the best profession on the face of the earth. When you are in the military there (you practice) good order and discipline. As a person, it is important to be disciplined in every aspect of your life. When there is discipline and order, then anytime you face an issue in your life, you can solve it with discipline.
1st TSC – What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
Mohammadzai – … My biggest accomplishment, establishing (female) gender officer training for the Afghan army, the Afghan National Police force and the Afghan version of the intelligence services.
I fought to have these offices established for these services, and to have them approved. Everything, from the structure, through the pay and final budget … a lot of work, a lot of fighting.