• A group of women in the Ministry of Defense including Afghan Air Force women who have volunteered to serve their country surround, Lt. Col. Latifa Nabizada (tan flight suit), the first female Afghan pilot. They gathered on the flightline in front of an Mil MI-17 Cargo Helicopter used for training Afghan Air Force Pilots. The women were honored during an International Women's Day ceremony held at the Afghan Air Force Headquarters, Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Afghan women honored for service to country

    A group of women in the Ministry of Defense including Afghan Air Force women who have volunteered to serve their country surround, Lt. Col. Latifa Nabizada (tan flight suit), the first female Afghan pilot. They gathered on the flightline in front of an...

  • Women from the Afghan Air Force and International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan listen to presentations made during an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions Afghan women make toward building a better and stronger Afghan Air Force.

    Afghan women honored for service to country

    Women from the Afghan Air Force and International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan listen to presentations made during an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted...

  • The first female pilot in Afghanistan's history Col. Latifa Nabizada exits the stage after speaking at an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions women make toward building a better and stronger Afghan Air Force.

    Afghan women honored for service to country

    The first female pilot in Afghanistan's history Col. Latifa Nabizada exits the stage after speaking at an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions...

  • Brig. Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost Speaks at an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions Afghan women make toward building a better and stronger Afghan Air Force.

    Afghan women honored for service to country

    Brig. Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost Speaks at an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions Afghan women make toward building a better and stronger...

  • Brig. Gen. Steven M. Shepro, commanding general, NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan, speaks with one of the many women who were honored during an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The celebration highlighted the contributions Afghan women make toward building a better and stronger Afghan Air Force.

    Afghan women honored for service to country

    Brig. Gen. Steven M. Shepro, commanding general, NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan, speaks with one of the many women who were honored during an International Women's Day celebration at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, March 7, 2013. The...

KABUL, Afghanistan (March 8, 2013) -- Afghan Air Force observed International Women's Day by honoring Afghan military women who seize the opportunity to serve in non-traditional roles in support of their country.

The celebration opened with a commemorative ceremony and was capped by a helicopter demonstration at Kabul International Airport. Young Afghan female pilots, military trainees, and female coalition members from ISAF Joint Command attended.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak opened the ceremony noting the increased interest and advancement of women, not only the Air Force but in the military over the past three years.

"We have seen these women turn in very good performance," Wardak said. "They have made the progress happen."

Other distinguished guests echoed Wahab's remarks. Gen. Nazifa Zaki of the Afghan Parliament, said that Afghan women have made strides, many educated in other countries have returned to work hard serving and have earned the respect of their country.

One honored guest, the first woman in the Afghan Air Corps, Col. Latifa Nabizada, looked forward to women breaking new ground, doing training and establishing female support teams.

Nabizada, born in Afghanistan, applied for flight school at age 17 and graduated number one in the class. Her career as a military helicopter pilot in began 1988. She graduated three years later from the Air Defense Academy. With more than 1,000 flight hours, she flies Mi-17 helicopters delivering supplies to most of Afghanistan's provinces, including areas of heavy combat where she has also evacuated wounded personnel.

International Women's Day is a holiday that has been observed around the world for more than a century. It is a time of celebration of respect and appreciation for women's economic, political, and social achievements.

Allowing women to train and serve with the Afghan Air Force is an accomplishment unspoken of during Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

"These Afghan women demonstrate two leadership qualities," said Brig. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, vice commander U.S. Air Force Air Expeditionary Command. "Courage and compassion. They have had the courage to defend their country and the compassion to make a difference."

With the U.S. drawing down forces and supporting the growth capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, the time for women to answer the call to support their country is prominent.

The event was filled with celebration of women all over the world through poetry readings from women of the Afghan Air Force, Afghan women's handcrafts, and a luncheon with senior military leadership where men and women sat together sharing military stories and experiences.

Page last updated Mon March 11th, 2013 at 09:40