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Afghanistan Seeks More Women to Join Its Army

Afghanistan Seeks More Women to Join Its Army

Afghanistan has announced fresh initiatives to bring more women into the army, weeks after the country's first female pilot sparked a national debate on insecurity and women's rights by seeking asylum in the US. The defense ministry wants to boost the proportion of women in the army to 10 percent, deputy ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told AFP Friday, confirming a slew of incentives including a special salary scale for female recruits.

"At this stage, we have 1,575 Afghan women in our army ranks, it is mere three to four percent which is nothing," Radmanesh said. "We are aiming to raise this percentage to 10 percent." Fifteen years after the end of the Taliban regime, gender equality remains a distant dream in Afghanistan despite claims of progress.

An estimated 5,000 were killed and another 15,000 wounded in 2015, primarily by the Taliban, while incomplete figures for 2016 show the toll was even worse. Some 5,523 Afghan service members died between January 1 and August 19 alone according to a quarterly report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).