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WORLD NEWS 13
Army March 31, 2011
A crucial connection
ADF women are engaging with the
local population in Afghanistan as
part of the International Security
Force's Female Engagement Teams
The FETs support education pro-
grams, economic development and
the provision of health services to the
local population and provide an oppor-
tunity for Afghan women to discuss
openly with the female soldiers their
concerns and needs for improving their
lives and those of their families. The
FETs also provide school supplies and
medicine to the villagers.
FETs work in close conjunction
with the Provincial Reconstruction
Team (PRT) in Uruzgan, a multina-
tional effort led by Australia, which
has a female development assistance
program. Within this program there
are specific female engagement pro-
jects relating to women's education
and healthcare. The PRT also works
with the Director of Women's Affairs
in the Provincial Government.
Together the FETs and the PRT
work to improve the living conditions
and access to basic services for rural
Afghan women and their families in
Uruzgan, who represent one of the
most isolated and disadvantaged popu-
lation groups in the country.
Cpl Jenny Sapwell, MTF 2, has
participated in a FET patrol with a
female interpreter in the village of
"Pleasantly there were no prob-
lems entering the qualas (compounds)
and speaking to the women. It was
great to engage with them as it is rare
to see females out of their homes, let
alone being able to speak to them,"
Cpl Sapwell said.
Capt Sarah Vesey, Joint Task Force
Headquarters, regularly attends activi-
ties and development project sites in
Uruzgan and is encouraged by the
increasing number of females taking
an active role in the community.
"A simple measure of progress
is the number of women doing their
shopping in the bazaar and it has gone
from very few to about 100 a day,"
Capt Vesey said.
In a significant milestone for
women in Afghanistan, Uruzgan prov-
ince Governor Mohammed Omar
Shirzad recognised the role of women
in Afghanistan by hosting more than
150 Afghan and Coalition defence
servicewomen at an International
Women's Day function on March 6.
The ADF has 213 women deployed
on operations in Afghanistan.
Community engagement: Capt Sarah Vesey talks to Afghan children during a Provincial Reconstruction Team visit to the Women's Hospital in
Photo by Sgt Neil Ruskin
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