• Afghan women supported to participate in forthcoming elections

Afghan women supported to participate in forthcoming elections

03 September 2013

$6 million was pledged last week to support the greater participation of women in upcoming national and local elections in Afghanistan.  With women forming almost 50% of eligible voters, their involvement is critical to ensure elections are truly representative of the Afghan population.

Both DFID and the Asia Foundation have announced funding to the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC).  The funding aims to both support the IEC develop systems to ensure greater turnout at polling stations for women and also assist more female candidates to stand in the elections.  DFID will fund the development of 50 female members of parliament and 100 female provincial councillors, through training in political skills such as developing strategies, negotiating, campaigning and leadership .

A number of issues threaten the participation of female voters in upcoming elections.  Security conditions in 10 districts have prevented the opening of voter registration, and recent IEC figures state women hold only 152,000 of the 627,000 total voter cards so far issued.  

The IEC has also announced that a severe shortage of female members of the security forces threatens female attendance at the 2014 presidential and provincial elections. There are currently only 2,000 of the required 12,000 women needed to conduct body searches of voters entering polling stations set aside specifically for women.

Furthermore, cultural issues remain a concern - a survey conducted by the Asia Foundation last year revealed that 46% of those surveyed stated men should advise or be consulted before a woman votes. 

Announcing the Asia Foundation funding, Mark Kryzer, representative to Afghanistan commented:

"Our project will ensure that women have visibility and a voice in the electoral process and the number of women candidates hopefully will increase.  Enhancing their access to justice and supporting their participation in elections is fundamental to Afghanistan's future prosperity and democratic freedoms."

BAAG welcomes these announcements and believes Afghan women are more politically active today. The country has the second highest percentage of female parliamentarians in the world. Such projects can empower the national institutions to safeguard women’s participation in elections and strengthen female voices in the Afghan parliament.

 

Source – DFID and Tolonews