Last month, Niloofar Rhmani became the first woman to graduate from the Afghan Air Force since the 1980s, and her story is making her a popular symbol of changing times.
The 21-year-old from Kabul was awarded her flying wings on May 14 after successfully completing the air force's undergraduate pilot training program, according to the Washington Times. The program demanded roughly 145 flying hours, and Rhmani spent nearly a year learning English to qualify. "First, it was my ambition, and second, I want to show that Afghanistan can have female pilots," she told the Times.
Rhmani's story has received nearly 30,000 upvotes since being posted to Reddit on Tuesday.
"That woman just overcame not only the pilot training, but massive cultural resistance to get where she is. Massive respect is due," wrote user AttackTribble.
Another user, an Afghan male who grew up outside the country, wrote, "I'm proud that she's giving hope to all the little girls back home who have to better themselves under daily threats of violence. I hope this is the beginning of changing attitudes back home."
While some sources have claimed that Rhmani is Afghanistan's first female pilot, other reports have proved otherwise.
Still, Rhmani is hoping her success will pave the way for more women to pursue their dreams.
"Now my goal is to help my country have a bright future and stand up for females. I helped break down the doors for them after me," Rhmani said in a story published on the website of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command.