Sunday, September 20, 2009

Every Day Heroes

A great story about some amazing heroes:

MOD police officer helps empower Afghan women in ANP

A Military Operations news article

14 Sep 09

Thirteen women are quietly making history in the most conservative corner of Afghanistan thanks to the support and mentoring of an MOD police officer.

Female Afghan National Police member

A female Afghan National Police member carries out small arms training on a firing range in Helmand, southern Afghanistan
[Picture: Corporal Steve Wood, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

It was when Isabella McManus, an MOD police officer who recently deployed to Afghanistan, visited the police headquarters in Helmand province that she noticed a small group of women who sat in the corner; untrained, unnoticed, without uniform and without motivation.

However, Ms McManus saw promise in the women and decided to see what she could do to increase their confidence and potential as members of the Afghan National Police (ANP).

Ms McManus explained:

"It wasn't my job to start mentoring the women specifically but they struck a chord with me. They were ignored entirely at the police headquarters and it wasn't right.

"They needed a uniform giving them some status and they needed training and equipment. I've fought those battles with them every step of the way and we are getting somewhere. The women are empowered and it's great to see."

Firearms training was one area Ms McManus was keen for the women to experience and recently the women went onto the firing range for the first time to hone their shooting skills, something they had never previously been allowed to do.

MOD police officer Isabella McManus trains female Afghan National Police members

MOD police officer Isabella McManus trains female Afghan National Police members to use the Sig Sauer 9mm pistol
[Picture: Corporal Steve Wood, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

On their first occasion out on the firing range the women were greeted by sneering men, who doubted their ability with weapons. But their scorn quickly dissipated when the first woman got all five shots bang on target.

One recruit, known as Miriam, said:

"I think of myself as equal to the men. The men don't agree but I feel right doing this job. I have no fear and I am happy.

"I encourage myself to be the best and although there are only a small number of us I know that we can boost the level and morale of women in Afghanistan. What we are doing is good for the future of women here."

With the guidance and support of Ms McManus the women are achieving truly extraordinary things. One of the women, Wooranga, has a fierce reputation within the police force.

After spending 20 years in the Army during the time of the Russian invasion, she is a force to be reckoned with and a figurehead for the other women in the ANP.

Female Afghan National Police members fire pistols on the range

MOD police officer Isabella McManus observes female Afghan National Police members on the firing range
[Picture: Corporal Steve Wood, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The 39-year-old is married to a 100-year-old man and is the breadwinner in her household. She openly tells people about her work in the ANP and claims to be afraid of nothing. This was evident when during a night raid on a compound near Nawa she came face-to-face with a Taliban fighter.

Wooranga said:

"I went into the compound first, while the male police officers waited outside. As I stood on a wall I saw one of the enemy pointing an AK47 towards me....

Go read the rest of this inspiring story here.,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW!! What an awe inspiring story. If the Afghan women could be empowered to defend themselves and their homes, this war would take a dramatic turn. Go ladies!! Everybody knows that women are tougher than men. LOL