Women Could Play Influential Role in April’s Elections
Kabul- Women make up close to half of the Afghan population, and despite issues in past elections, many of them seem determined to leave their mark on the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) prides itself on the number of female voters it has registered this year, which is said to number around 1.2 million at this point. But that number is less than half of the men registered this year, and in past elections many female voters were forced to cast their votes in favor of the candidates their husbands, fathers or brothers preferred.
“In the past election when I was voting my dad asked me to vote for a specific candidate, but now I know that I have the right to chose myself who to vote for…someone who will serve the country,” Kabul resident Nadera Hamidi said.
Whether awareness is enough to get Afghan women voting independently remains to be seen, yet even average female residents, some of who have never voted before, appeared adamant about going to the polls on their own terms.
“My message to women at home is that voting is their right and they must not vote for someone else’s choice,” Farzana Amarkhail said.
The upcoming vote is considered a pivotal one for Afghanistan, marking the first democratic transition of presidential power in Afghan history. Overwhelmingly, the women interviewed in Kabul expressed hope for the elections and the impact they could have on them.
“I have an optimistic view, elections is a new hope for me, my family and friends,” Kabul resident Weeda Saber said.
“Each one of our votes will make a decision for the future of Afghanistan,” another resident of the capital named Manizha Rasooli exclaimed.
However, some – both women and men – have cautioned female voters about allowing themselves to be taken advantage of by pandering politicians.
“Apparently at this point, it seems like candidates are using them as a tool, meaning that they are using women’s interests as their slogan but there are no determined, specific and serious programs for them,” said MP Fowzia Kofi, the head of the Women’s Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives.
There are no female candidates running in the presidential elections this year, but three of the candidates have female vice presidents on their tickets, which alone is an improvement from past years.
“If women are given an opportunity, women can manage a country and take leadership,” said Safia Sediqi, the Second Vice President of Hedayat Amin Arsala. (ToloNews)