22 Palestinian women are set to become the first females in the country's long history to join the Presidential Guard.
In a recent show of girl power, 22 Palestinian women are in training to become the very first female members of the Presidential Guard. These women, who only make up a tiny percentage of the elite force that is comprised of 2,600 men, are pioneers, blazing the way for the inclusion of women in a generally very male-dominated, not only society, but more specifically, field.
In recent years, there's been a slight shift in the country, with a gradual evaporation of some gender barriers; more women have started to assume posts in government or start their own businesses. This is perhaps in part due to the rise in unemployment, leading people to be more open towards women's incorporation in the jobs which traditionally were not entirely female-friendly, because it's another source of household income. In the West Bank, women constitute only 3 percent of the 30,000 member of the Palestinian police at the moment. However, according to Brig. Rashideh Mughrabi, who is in charge of gender issues in the National Security Forces, they are currently working on recruiting more.
Including women in the Presidential Guard however, is a big step. These 22 women were chosen from last year's graduating class of Independence University, a four-year security training academy. The women are currently receiving training, both in personal protection and anti-terrorism missions which includes firing rifles and rappelling down buildings. The female guards are definitely breaking barriers and their grueling training not only pushes them to their limits, but is, for all intents and purposes, equal to that of the men's training. They are set to start working at President Mahmoud Abbas' compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah in the summer. They will be living in separate housing than the men but their tasks will essentially be the same. For now, the women are only being selected from a pool of potentials from West Bank because the Gaza Strip is not under Abbas' control.