FEFA: Parliamentary Elections were Challenging for Women Candidates & Voters

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) says that the October parliamentary ballot was challenging for women as illegal demands and lack of campaign opportunities hurt their confidence in the credibility of the vote.

Maryam Arween Barakzai, in charge of women and youth affairs at FEFA, said the polls were conducted on the basis of weak management and the electoral process had been faced with security threats.

She said that findings of the electoral watchdog indicated that more facilities had been made available to male candidates than women.

Insecurity, threats, economic problems, the culture of male dominance, propaganda and illegal demands of some officials were the main challenges women faced during the elections, she explained.

This approach raised concerns among women and reduced their trust in the national process, Arween believed, who accused mosque leaders of declaring women’s participation in the elections un-Islamic.

“During the previous (post-Taliban) elections in Afghanistan, women’s participation as voters stood at 41 percent, 40 percent, and then 39 percent.
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Now this level has dropped to 33 percent,” Barakzai said.

The FEFA official urged the commission to be impartial in the process and scrutinise complaints against corrupt employees and deal with charges of rigging and irregularities in a timely manner.

On the other hand, Afghanistan Human Rights Commission Chairperson Seema Samar also described women’s inadequate rights to freedom, movement and creation of parties as the main problems facing half of Afghanistan’s population.

“One indicator of progressive and democratic countries is equality between women and men and women’s participation in the decision-making process,” she concluded.

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