Afghan Women's Rights

Afghan Women Army Doctors Aim to Defeat the Taliban

Afghan Doctors

A group of Afghan Women Army Doctors are helping to defeat the Taliban

Story by Lt.j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra

“The Taliban is suffering a major defeat by an unlikely opponent: a group of Afghan female doctors.

Next month, 10 women will graduate from a seven-year medical program and join the Afghan Army’s medical team – overcoming numerous barriers and challenging coursework, covering everything from firearms proficiency to combat casualty care.

“We are breaking the limits of our society. We are acting on their needs. In the past, becoming a female doctor in the military was something to be ashamed of, but today, we have proven otherwise,” said Dr. Husina Wahidy, a medical intern. “Every situation belongs to ourselves. I stopped listening to those around me that were waiting for me to fail. My future is mine and not for others to take.”

According to retired Col. Gary Davis, clinical advisor to the Afghan National Army medical commander, women succeeding is what the Taliban fear most.

“Every day, I witness quiet heroism while working with these doctors. I have been with them since the first ever female doctors graduated 10 years ago. I guarantee you that these professionals are the Taliban’s worst nightmare,” he said. “Educated women who knows how to shoot.”

The upcoming class represents an important milestone, in that it establishes consistency and a reliable track record for success.

“No one cut them any slacks. They were tested and evaluated at the same level as their male classmates. They have a long way to go, but they have also come a long way. I am confident that they will maintain their momentum,” Davis added.

To get into the program, these doctors had to be among the highest scores in the general aptitude standardized national test. They spent one year at the National Military Academy where they studied basic military indoctrination. This was followed by five years at the Kabul Medical University, where they completed their operational medicine curriculum. This month, they are finalizing a one-year internship program here at the Kabul National Military Hospital, Davis explained.

Doctor Sonia Baha, internal physician and former graduate undergoing residency, said that women still face an uphill battle pursuing their professional goals, but she insisted that would not deter her or the other graduates.

“There should be no fear of females going in the military as doctors or engineers or any other fields,” she said. “We are here because people are suffering because of war. We are working hard not to make mistakes. To be the best doctors we can be for the soldiers and their families.”

Wahidy also expressed what motivates her.

“I think about all of the soldiers, females and males alike, and how they leave their homes to fight for us and for a more secure country,” she said. “We show them our best respects the same way we respect our elders and our teachers.”

Davis highlighted that these doctors have overcome a lot and deserve the praise and respect of their male counterparts in the ANA.

“I remember the earlier years when female students sat in the back of my classroom,” he said. “We moved them to the front of the room. Not everyone wanted them to succeed. But, here we are and they did it by showing courage.”

Once they graduate from the program, they will begin rotating as general medical officers.”