Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani on Saturday stressed the need for women within security institutions to play a bigger role in safeguarding the nation – and women in particular.
Addressing delegates at the second conference of policewomen councils in Kabul, Rula Ghani called on all female police officers to make a strong effort to ensure the safety of women in the country.
She said Afghan women were the most vulnerable citizens of the country - referring in particular to the humiliation of women meted out by the Taliban during their recent attack on Kunduz.
"The Kunduz incident showed that women are in the frontline of violence, therefore, women need special attention from government," she said.
Also present at the event was Interior Minister Noorulhaq Olomi who promised to increase the role played by policewomen in order to build their capacity.
"Today that you [policewomen] are representing the councils and have joined the police, you will reach to the top level you deserve," Olomi said. "You must be pulled out from symbolic roles and you must be practically involved in making decisions."
Human rights officials, meanwhile, emphasized the need to also protect policewomen, whom they said were themselves at risk.
"Government should pave the way for women to join the force in Paktia, Paktika, Kandahar, Helmand, Nuristan and Helmand provinces," Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) head Sima Samar said. "Safety and protection of policewomen is a must ... I request their male counterparts to treat them with respect."
Based on Interior Ministry statistics, Afghanistan has 2,700 policewomen. But, according to the ministry, customs and tradition among Afghan communities in Panjsher, Nuristan, Kunar and Laghman provinces still prevent women from joining the force.