The Women Who Guard Afghanistan & Tajikistan Borders


The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan stretches for over 1,300 kilometers across harsh, mountainous terrain, cutting through some of the most inaccessible and remote places on earth. The geography alone makes this one of the world’s most difficult borders to manage. But the job facing the Tajik and Afghan border agencies has become even tougher with growing insecurity in northern Afghanistan since 2014.

The UN Migration Agency, IOM, facilitated over 50 joint training courses for Tajik and Afghan border guards in Tajikistan between 2009 and 2014. With the financial support of the United States Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agencies (INL), IOM Tajikistan delivered its first joint training course for 15 Tajik and Afghan women at Dushanbe’s Training Center for Border Guards. The 10-day program was the first of its kind and became the basis for building trust and improving communication between the Tajik and Afghan border agencies. Both sides and IOM agreed that Afghan women attending the first course could be chaperoned by male family members – until their chaperons realized that it was unnecessary to be present. 

Nadia, an officer of the Afghan Border Police, is one of the 50 Afghan women who, so far, have received a training along with 51 Tajik women. She joined the Border Police Force after her husband was killed. War is a misfortune and it took away my husband. War took away the only breadwinner of our family,” Nadia says. That’s when Nadia started to search for work so she could provide for her two children.

Statistical data of Border Forces of Tajikistan have shown that female border guards are often better than men when it comes to detecting human trafficking cases or deescalating conflict situations at borders,” says IOM Tajikistan Chief of Mission Dragan Aleksoski. According to a joint assessment conducted by IOM and the Tajik Border Forces, female border guards are reported to have sharper skills to detect forged documents, errors in identity documents of those who are under investigation, and to identify trafficked persons.

 “The training also helps them to share mutual concerns and exchange experiences of their work combating narcotics, human trafficking and instability in border areas,” says Aleksoski.“In recent years the number of female employees in the Tajik Border Force has almost doubled, demonstrating their value in creating a stable and well-managed border,” he adds.

As part of its wider efforts to promote women’s participation in border management in the region, IOM will continue to provide training to Afghan and Tajik female border guards through 2017 and 2018. It will also continue to train male border guards from both countries.

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