American Forces Press Service
Jan. 28, 2009 - Nearly 500 new Iraqi policewomen graduated from the Baghdad Police College here Jan. 26, marking the largest female class ever to graduate from the school, officials said. Among their first duties, the new graduates will serve front-line roles providing security for the Jan. 31 election.
"We feel proud and happy that we are bringing new opportunity to Iraqi women today, and more women will follow us," a graduate said.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani congratulated the new graduates for "taking another step toward rebuilding Iraqi security."
"These women are now sharing duties with the policemen to bring a new day of prosperity to Iraq," Bulani said.
"You are now qualified to defend Iraq, to protect our liberties, Iraqi laws, constitution and human dignity," he told the graduates.
Bulani also thanked coalition forces and trainers at Baghdad Police College for their support in making this course a success.
The women received training in checkpoint security, police operations and Iraqi law, and are qualified to serve in the same capacity as men, Iraqi police officer Col. Sabah Hashim, director of training at the Police Qualification Center, said. The women will serve throughout the nation with Iraqi and border police and other directorates as required, he said.
U.S. Army Col. Larry Saunders, senior advisor for the Baghdad Police College Transition Team, said the graduation clearly speaks to Bulani's commitment to distribute opportunity equally among genders in Iraq. The transition team provides U.S. and coalition assistance and training to the Baghdad Police College and Iraqi police forces.
"They graduated in time to serve in important roles during the election security process, thus combining two very important symbols of freedom: equal opportunity and the right to elect your political leaders," he said.
"This first all-female graduating class shows the wonderful progress the Ministry of Interior has made as it works to increase diversity in the Iraqi police," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mike Milano, deputy commanding general for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq's directorate of interior affairs, which provides training support to the Interior Ministry.
Other dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Minister of Women's Affairs Nawal Mageed al-Samarai and Parliament member Sammera al-Mossawi, head of the Council of Representatives' committee on women's rights and family.
Samarai thanked Interior Ministry officials for their new plan to provide more female police. She congratulated the graduates and urged them to be honest and to respect human rights as well as women's rights.
"By your service, you will create more opportunity for more women to serve their homeland and help bring security to our country," Samarai said.
(From a Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq news release.)