By Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg
International Security Assistance Force
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 27, 2014 – The International Security Assistance Force’s gender advisor is breaking new ground not only in her native country of Croatia but also in Afghanistan.
Croatian Brig. Gen. Gordana Garasic, who arrived here in April, is spearheading efforts to assist the Afghan military and police in increasing the number of females serving to 10 percent over the next decade.
“We have put together an action plan for the Afghan security forces in order to train, assist and help those security forces recruit more females in their police and army,” Garasic said. “We believe, and it has proven that if women participate in the police and military that it will help stability of the whole society.”
Garasic speaks from experience. She is the first female general officer in Croatia's history and the first general officer to serve as the Gender Advisor in NATO-led operations.
Garasic works closely with her Afghan counterparts in the Ministries of Interior and Defense. Recently, the general met with her Afghan counterparts who serve in the Afghan National Police, Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Defense to encourage information exchanges toward gender integration of their military and police.
“It was very nice that the general invited us here,” said Brig. Gen. Hekmat Shahi, director of Gender, Human and Children’s Rights within the Afghan government’s Ministry of Interior.
“This visit was very important and useful for us to exchange and learn from the general,” Shahi added.
“Future meetings will be very useful for us,” Shahi said. “If we exchange ideas with the general and learn from her experiences we can move forward with our planning.”
Currently there are approximately 2,000 women serving in the Afghan National Police and roughly 700 women serving in the Afghan Air Force and Army. Garasic encouraged other opportunities to exchange information not only with the Afghan government but also with international organizations and other institutions involved with gender integration.
“We all need to work together with the Afghan government and institutions, and of course, other international organizations to promote gender and integration,” Garasic said. “The unity of effort toward progress can be achievable.”
The general cited the participation of Afghan women in both the April 5 and the June 14 run-off elections which in the last vote was 38 percent.
Garasic says Afghan women want to serve in the military and police without obstacles.
“Through the course of recruitment and training, proper assignment and promotion will all result in the retention of women in both the military and police,” she said. “If it is perceived as a respectable occupation, especially as more women enter the police force, it will help to suppress and solve crimes and offenses against women.”