ZOL HEJAH, THE FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD 119 CALL CENTER IN AFGHANISTAN

Gender equality is about to take one step forward in Afghanistan when Major Zol Hejah starts in her new job as the first female chief of the 119 Emergency Service Call Center in Kabul. Major Hejah has already done a long and multifaceted career in the security sector and she knows what kind of topics she is going to enhance in the future. However, before making any decisions as a Chief of 119, she wants to map the situation and needs in the Emergency Call Center in Kabul.

Zol Hejah started her career in security sector 23 years ago in the Ministry of Defence. As so many other Afghans, she had to spent years as a refugee in Pakistan but after returning home she continued her working life as a computer operator in the Ministry of Interior. She was transferred to the Parliament where she worked as the Commander of a unit of 8 persons responsible for the security of the female Members of Parliament inside the house of Parliament.

After five years in the Parliament security Zol Hejah was transferred to the Kabul International Airport where she served as the Deputy Head of the VIP Unit. She was responsible for the VIP moves but also managed to unveil an attempt to smuggle drugs in capsules ingested by two women. Zol was promoted to Staff Captain but she wanted to go even further and when the opportunity came after some studies at the Police Staff College, she was happy to start as the Head of Women’s Affair at the Border Police Headquarters.

Major Zol Hejah is a calm, determined lady with a friendly smile and decorum. From her serene appearance you could not tell that her life has not been easy: she lost her husband over ten years ago in an insurgent attack and she is the head of the family whose son has chosen to serve his country as a policeman as well.

As any professional leader, Major Hejah will start her duty in the 119 by probing the needs and conditions of the call center and she does not hasten to give any statements before she has familiarised herself with the situation in her unit. However, she knows very well the major goals she wants to foster. “I will work for the elimination of all kind of police misbehavior, corruption and violence. At the same time, I want to encourage the recruitment of women into the police forces and also enhance their working conditions and possibilities of promotion: woman and men must have equal opportunities for promotion in the police forces.”

“And naturally, as the Chief of the Emergency Call Center, I want to foster security and the emergency services for all the citizens in my area,” says Major Hejah.

The EUPOL Head of Mission, Pia Stjernvall, met the Head of Police-e Mardum-e (Community Policing) Directorate, Head of the 119 Emergency Service Call Centers, Brigadier General Mohammad Homayoon Ayni and Major Hejah on 31 January. Head of Mission congratulated Major Hejah for the appointment and stated that it is a positive sign which will hopefully encourage both the women working in the police and those who make decisions about promotion inside the police: There is a need for female leaders and there are competent Afghan women, such as Major Hejah, who can serve even in the most demanding positions.