Afghanistan’s First Female Air Force Pilot

Geo Beats
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Colonel Latifa Nabizada triumphed over professional, personal, and political obstacles to become the first female pilot in Afghanistan’s Air Force.

In Afghanistan, most of the duties outside of homes have traditionally been handled by men.

Colonel Latifa Nabizada triumphed over professional, personal, and political obstacles to become the first female pilot in Afghanistan’s Air Force.

Flying was a dream she shared with her sister, and prior to entering military school in 1989, the girls had been rejected as candidates multiple times on medical grounds.

Rather than focusing on the disturbing aspects – like their classmates throwing rocks at them – the women fixed their attention on their studies and dreams.

Successfully joining the Air Force didn’t mean their troubles were over.

When the Taliban seized Kabul, the sisters had to flee. At first they lived in northern Afghanistan and flew missions against the Taliban. Eventually they ended up in Pakistan where they spent several years hiding and weaving rugs.

Years later Nabizada was dealt a personal blow when her sister died during childbirth.

During her missions, Nabizada would fly with her daughter. She acknowledges it was risky but says she had no choice as the Afghan Air Force does not offer childcare on base. Today her 5 year old daughter attends school but Nabizada has requested childcare be provided for women entering the military.

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