Female Troops Take On New Role in Afghanistan

   •    April 8, 2010

This article was originally published by Medill DC.

Teams of female Marines are stepping off their bases in Afghanistan and entering villages to build relationships with an often overlooked sector of the Afghan population: women.

Contrary to their image in the West, Afghan women can be powerful allies because of their central role in their families. And in the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan population, they can be a critical link, experts said Wednesday at a panel in Washington hosted by the Institute for the Study of War.

“When these female Marines go into these local communities … both Afghan men and Afghan women feel much more comfortable talking to them than they do to their male counterparts,” said Mariam Mansury of the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a Cambridge, Mass.-based foundation that promotes the inclusion of women in peace processes and has worked in Afghanistan since 2002.

Mansury worked with the Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar for more than a year as it developed a program similar to the FETs.

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