MOGADISHU, Somalia – It's unusual to see a female in the military in traditionally conservative Somali society where women's duties are generally at home and limited to family chores. But several determined women are breaking down those barriers and joining the army.
Somali army officials report female army recruits have increased following the ouster from the capital in 2011 of the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab. According to estimates, about 1,500 females are now in the military of 20,000.
At work the women often wear camouflage trouser uniforms, boots and bright blue or purple headscarves topped by a beret with the military's insignia. At other times they wear long skirts to observe Islamic dress codes. They also often carry heavy backpacks.