The British Ministry of Defence reported earlier this week that Captain Lisa Jade Head, a bomb disposal expert stationed in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, had become the second British woman to be killed in the war in Afghanistan. Head was 29, and hailed from West Yorkshire. She was killed while diffusing a roadside bomb.
Since the details of her death were released, tributes have been pouring in. Head, it seems, was a vivacious young woman who loved her job despite its dangers, and who was really good at it. Her commanding officer said that she would be remembered “as a passionate, robust and forthright individual who enjoyed life to the full – be it at work, on the sporting field or at the bar.” Another colleague said that Head “typified the spirit of the ammunition technical officer, making the long and lonely walk into the face of danger and adversity for the sake of others.”
Too often, when we think about war, we think about men. We think about men in suits making decisions in Washington, and men in uniform with their boots on the ground. We think about young men being radicalized and throwing Molotov cocktails. The reality, of course, is that war has never been only a man’s game.
Even when women aren’t on the front lines, as they are in increasing numbers these days, it is women who keep the home front running, and women who mourn the loss of fathers, brothers and husbands. It is women whose rights are invoked to justify going to war, and women whose lives are shattered when rape becomes a weapon of war. And now, it is women who die in combat – albeit, in smaller numbers than men. Head is the 364th Briton to die in Afghanistan. Women fight, women die and women should be remembered for their courage and commitment.
Photo: Sydney Morning Herald