General Khatool Mohammadzai
I am a master parachutist in the army of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.In early 1984, sport and the air force were my passions and I joined the Afghanistan National Army, because parachute jumping was only available in the army.
If women want to work outside of the house, then they should take on work that astonishes men. When I jump out of a plane it gives me a special feeling, when one is in the middle of the sky, it feels like swimming. I concentrate on positioning myself in the sky and keeping my balance. When I get close to the ground, I am very careful about the landing, so that I don’t break any bones.
I was married, but unfortunately one year after I got married, I lost my husband. I have a son, who is a student now, and very proud of me. I had to be his father and his mother; I was the only person supporting the family. I dedicated my life to my career and looking after my son.
Despite being an officer in the ministry, I am a woman, a mother and a daughter at home. When I get home, then I am like all other women and I clean and sweep our flat, wash clothes, cook dishes. But I study in my spare time.
Afghanistan is a country that has been full of war and full of problems, it has been hard even to the men. For a woman like me, who lost her husband at a very young age, and had no one to support her, life is difficult - not only in Afghanistan, but in every part of the world.
I never want to see another Afghan woman become a widow. Even if they were to throw me out of the plane without a parachute I would accept it, but the life of an Afghan woman is very difficult.
The people talk about her all the time, when she talks to someone, when she wears good clothes, when she eats something. Every day people put pressure on her about her morals. She is a hero, who can ignore people’s gossiping and bring up her children and carry on with her life.
I joined the army before my marriage, during the communist regime. After my marriage I left the army for a while, but after that I came back, and stayed until the Taliban regime. Then it was the same for me as all other women, I just stayed at home and did nothing.
When Taliban collapsed, I was the first woman who went to rejoin the army. I put my uniform on and came to MOD. I was made a general at the Ghazi Stadium on National Day in 2001. I achieved all this by putting my life in danger. I got the rank of General by endangering my life. Nobody gave it to me easily.
Afghans love me very much, and they always respect me, even if they are younger or older than me, maybe because I worked hard for my people and served them honestly.
I want to be remembered as a woman who worked hard, and battled to achieve women’s rights, in spite of all the gender problems for a woman. I didn’t have much money and no one to help and support me. But I kept going despite thousands of problems in my way.
I have performed more than 500 free jumps, in all provinces and in different ceremonies. I have lots of trophies and certificates for my achievements but there are not enough places to put them, as my apartment is a bit small, but I am grateful to god for it, so it is fine.
I have always landed safely. I have carried the holy flag, peace flag, Air Force flag, pigeons and flowers down with me. I brought them down with me as a woman, as a mother, as a daughter.