The Power of Sex and Afghanistan’s First Female Police Chief


Fifty-year-old mother-of-five Col. Jamila Bayaz pictured below was appointed as Chief of the Afghan Police. Some say it’s a sign of “progress”. It’s a change, no doubt, but can it really be considered progress if Col. Jamila’s appointment is merely a symbolic one as opposed to real progress where we see women proactively becoming part of everyday life in Afghanistan.

Most of the positions where ‘the other gender’ sits in the government posts has more to do with giving the world a perception of progress as opposed to real change. At times I think Afghanistan is following the ‘fake it till you make it’ tactic – in that Afghanistan will continue to pretend women have real power in Afghanistan’s political positions until the day that becomes our reality.

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With such positions come tremendous risks. Knowing that women in power, generally, remain favorite targets of Islamic militant groups like the taliban, Col. Jamila Bayaz will have more than just the daily challenges and opportunities in Kabul. Post-9/11 trend in Afghan society has been pro-women in many ways but I am yet to be convinced that all the pro-women movements are of much substance or are Afghan women, yet again, being used as means to promote agendas. When it comes to organizations like United Nations, I personally know that women’s involvement at workplace and preference is highly promoted.

Every appointment of women in public positions in Afghanistan continues to get attention and hopefully we will see an Afghanistan where attention will be given mainly due to substance of the person’s quality and character than just to the sex of the person.

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