BBC Report Sheds Light on Women's Role in Lebanese Air Force

As the world marked the International Women's Day this week, a BBC report published on Friday shed the light on the role that women are playing in the Lebanese Army, amid efforts to boost their contribution to administrative, logistical and even combat tasks.

While women are not allowed to work on the front line in the army, the report noted, this rule doesn't apply to the air force to which six females had applied to be pilots.

After undergoing testing, only two qualified: first Lieutenant Chantal Kallas, and first Lieutenant Rita Zaher.

26-year-old Rita told BBC that many had tried to persuade her to not join the Army because she was "taking a man's job".

As for Chantal, 27, she had always nurtured a dream of becoming a pilot and was determined to fulfill it despite her parents telling her that she would not be able to achieve balance between work and family.

"In my opinion, a woman has to overcome all of the challenges with their family or society to realise her ambition," she says.

"Everyone in the air force is helping us and encouraging us to fulfil our ambition, and this is why perceptions are changing and men have become more accepting of women in combat positions and emancipating women in society."

Twenty-four year old Manar Iskandar is the first female mechanic in the air force.

"When I first came here my male colleagues looked at me with sympathy, like I needed help. But little by little I have become stronger in my job and started doing work that they can't do themselves," Manar said.

"I have small hands so sometimes I can do things they can't, like reaching into areas of the engine they can't."