Georgia’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s operations in Afghanistan is helping a new generation of female soldiers break with age-old stereotypes about the role of women in this macho society.
After centuries of fighting foreign invaders, Georgians widely view men as the ones to be warriors and protectors, a role found in everything from folk dances to the question of who pays for a restaurant meal. The very word for soldier in Georgian, “jarisk’atsi,” literally translates as “army man.”
But, now, Georgian women are grabbing a gun and heading into war, too.
Thirty-three women out of a total of 1,561 Georgian troops have served in Afghanistan since 2009 when Tbilisi first took active involvement in the International Security Assistance Force. Ministry of Defense regulations restrict females to administrative, medical and humanitarian work, but the Georgian women who served in Afghanistan say that they went on patrols, defended bases and helped their military forge ties within NATO and with local communities like any male Georgian soldier.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.