Afghanistan: Women's Participation in the Election Process & in Political Leadership

Due to the proximity of Afghan elections in August 2009, women rights activists and civil society actors have launched the Five Million Afghan Women Campaign in order to support women’s political participation.
The Declaration of Commitment to Afghan Women
Five Million Afghan Women Campaign-4th August 2009
According to the constitution of Afghanistan and national and international treaties, one of the important social rights of human beings is to determine their political future (the right to elect and to be elected), but unfortunately in Afghan society the women are facing many problems in order to use their rights. Considering the time constraints in presidential and provincial councils’ elections, among the society there are growing concerns over participation of women in the election process. Therefore, women rights activists and civil society representatives from all over the country gathered on 25th June, 2009 and held comprehensive talks on related issues. In this gathering decision has been taken to launch a campaign of 5 million Afghan eligible women to support women’s political participation in order to ensure the rule of law and gender equality.

Taking into account that the active participation of women in elections is vital for resolving the current problems of the country; therefore, we (women) need a comprehensive support of people as well as national and international organizations. Hence, for increasing the level of women participation and in order to attain their legal rights, this campaign suggests the following:

This campaign asks the people and government of Afghanistan to support their commitments regarding women’s political rights and transparency of election process, especially:

The MOI, governors, district governors and all relevant national and international organizations are asked to adopt measures to ensure the security of women during polling day.

The Ministries of Culture & Information, Hajj and Religious Affairs and other religious and cultural organizations are asked to encourage eligible women to participate in elections by using religious courses through mass media, mosques and Shia mosques.

The MOWA, and national and international organizations working for women rights, are asked to support the campaign.

The IEC and national and international organizations working for election are asked to pave the way for women to participate in election and to use all sources and possibilities such as media, schools, mosques and free transportation, in order to motivate and guarantee their presence in the election.

The campaign asks all presidential and provincial councils’ candidates to acknowledge and include issues like women’s political, social, cultural, civil and economical rights, ensure the opportunities of reaching justice for women, amend the laws which affect women life “specifically the Family Law” and implement the Law of elimination of violence against women in accordance with the Constitution and national and international commitments.

According to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), Operational Plan for Afghan Women and the third Millennium Development Goal for increasing the number of leadership positions by 30% in different political and government civil services levels; the Afghan women need support to speed up the process of women participation and leadership in governmental affairs related to the presidential candidates.

The Afghan Women Network as the implementer and supporter of this campaign believes that promoting democracy without women’s independent and active participation is unattainable. Therefore, all Afghan women are asked to realize the value of their votes and by considering their social responsibility, they shall participate in election.

For pictuers of the launch see BBC Persian

Source: WUNRN

10 August 2009