1. ITV Report

Soldier rewarded for challenging sexism in Afghanistan

Staff Sergeant Kate Lord received the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service Photo:

A soldier has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for her work mentoring men in Afghanistan, challenging sexism.

Staff Sergeant Kate Lord, from Gateshead, was originally sent to Kabul to work as a physical trainer with women joining the Afghan National Army.

However, when she arrived, a delay in recruitment meant there were no women. She was asked to work with men instead.

"They stared. They surrounded me, looking at me, which was quite daunting. Then they were firing questions at me: how fast could I run a mile and a half? Was I married? They were confused why my husband would let me come to Afghanistan with lots of men."

Lord worked to develop close personal and professional relationships with the men and to convince them that women were as able as men.

She said she saw a definite change in mindset among both men and women during the nine months she was there.

"It took about a month or two months of me constantly having to prove to them that I was physically and mentally capable of doing my job.

"I think my personality helped. I'm enthusiastic, I wouldn't take no for an answer, and I have a good sense of humour, and they do too, so we could have a laugh and a joke."

The British Army said Lord had been 'relentless' in her pursuit of excellence and in changing attitudes in a 'deeply conservative' culture.

Her citation read: "No one among this mission - male or female - has done more to further the standing of women in the Afghan National Army."

Video: Staff Sergeant Lord said her work definitely changed mindsets