Captain Anne Andrews knows improvements have been made to the lives of Afghan women and girls, which includes a tenfold increase in school enrolments since 2001.
The Royal Australian Navy officer is the gender adviser at the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Nineteen years ago, women were not allowed a formal education or to be gainfully employed in Afghanistan – but progress is being made.
Success can also be seen in the security sector where the number of women employed in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces has increased by more than 40 per cent.
Increasing female integration in the Afghan National Army and Police Force is high on the agenda of the Afghan government and the NATO mission.
“Having women in the security sector, particularly the police force, assists Afghanistan in moving forward. But, we are also focusing on building capacity in other areas, including women’s literacy and job opportunities,” Captain Andrews said.
“It’s not just finding jobs for women, but making sure they have the right jobs in the right sectors.”
To boost female participation in the workforce, government ministries have developed an innovative employment program that will begin later this year.
Under the plan, several ministries will recruit up to 30 female graduates for a 12-month internship that will give the participants experience in a wide range of government operations.
“I am confident that on completion of the internship the women will pursue a career in government, including the area of national security, thereby helping Afghanistan to protect its citizens for years to come,” Captain Andrews said.