Fifty-year old mother of five Colonel Jamila Bayaaz is Afghanistan’s first female police chief. She is in charge of the 1st district of Kabul, which is home to one of the capitol’s busiest shopping centers. She also hopes to inspire other women to join the force and work up the ranks. One woman already visited her.
“She was very excited and told me that when she saw me on television she was encouraged to serve as a policewoman. I was surprised,” Bayaaz said in her office, bedecked with flowers from well-wishers. “My priority is to protect women and help them recruit in the police force through this job.”
Bayaaz joined the force more than 30 years ago and could be targeted just for being a woman. Afghanistan is Islamic and there are some who do not think women should associate with men who are not related to them. When the Taliban were in control, women were to remain completely covered and could not attend school. She had to give up her job and stay at home under their strict rule. Bayaaz has four bodyguards and an armored car. However, she does not allow the threat to get to her and wants to do her job.
“My children are worrying about me, but I am optimistic that I will stay safe.”
Provincial General Mohammad Zahir Zahir is happy Bayaaz was promoted.
Zahir added that the promotion proved women had a vital role outside of their homes. “Women are capable of working like men,” he said.
There are over 2,000 in the police force and most do not wear uniforms to deter any unwanted attention from terrorists. President Hamid Karzai set a target of 5,000 women police officers by the end of 2014. But since her promotion, she went right to work and has been inspecting the markets. She wears her uniform with pride, but still wears a headscarf instead of a cap.
“When I got out of my car, I spoke to my police officers on duty and all eyes were on me. It was interesting for the people to see a woman in uniform,” she said. “Carrying out my duties in uniform is a lesson for others. I hope it inspires other women to wear the uniform and I hope more women become officers.”
Bayaaz is grateful for America and Western efforts to help free them from the Taliban.
“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.