Conflict & Justice

Mother of five named Afghanistan's first female district police chief

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This photo taken on Nov. 14, 2012, shows a female police cadet holding a rifle during target practice at the Kabul Police Academy.

Credit:

Daniel Berehulak

Meet Afghanistan’s highest-ranking female police officer. 

Colonel Jamila Bayaz, 50, is the first woman named district police chief in the war-torn country. She will head Kabul's District 1, an important business and government-administration district in the Afghan capital.

The Interior Ministry announced the appointment on Tuesday. Its significance can't be overstated.

There are some 1,500 women police officers in the country, accounting for fewer than one percent of its force, and they serve mainly in gender and administrative units. 

Many endure the disapproval of families and communities.

In 2013, unknown attackers killed two senior female officers in the southern province of Helmand. 

Bayaz, a mother of five, is aware of the dangers but believes her promotion could help other Afghan women. 

"This is a chance not just for me, but for the women of Afghanistan," she told NBC News on Wednesday.

"I will not waste it. I will prove that we can handle this burden.”

Despite significant improvements in the rights of women over the past decade, Afghanistan still remains one of the worst countries to be born female, according to Amnesty International.

Bayaz, however, says she is determined to make her mark. She told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that she only took the job after being granted “full authority.”

"Before this post, I was offered a similar one but I refused to accept it because I told them I would not accept a symbolic job," said Bayaz, who previously worked in the investigative branch at Kabul headquarters.

"I want to thank America and the international community for all of their help and support. I would not be here today if it weren't for all of their assistance," she said.

The Interior Ministry said it planned to increase the number of female officers to 10,000 by the end of the year and promote more women. 

"We will we see a female Provincial Police Chief in the near future," spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. 

More from GlobalPost: Women and Justice in Afghanistan